Simply speaking, noise can be defined as an unwanted or unpleasant sound, in the form of energy emitted by a vibrating entity. This vibration then reaches our ears and creates a sensation of hearing through the nerves. However, not all vibrating sounds are audible, and we, as human beings, don’t really have a great track record in recognizing subtle agents that can cause disease. Together with tobacco, noise pollution is often overlooked as being directly linked to certain medical conditions.

Statistical data from around the world shows that every third person is exposed to the harmful effects of traffic noise and every fifth is exposed to harmful nighttime sound levels. Although our ears adapt extremely well to the environment and can block out a noisy background and concentrate on what we want to hear, they are still receiving the sound signals.

Measuring noise pollution

The sound is measured in Decibels (dB) and it’s safe for our ears if it’s 75dB or below. Anything above 85dB is considered harmful and it can be produced by a large variety of sources. Noise can also be continuous or intermittent and of high or low frequency. It’s also very subjective in interpretation since labeling something as merely sound or as noise depends on a person’s habit, interest, physical conditions and sound impact over time.

Sources of noise pollution

Noise can come from various sources and as our population grows, it will continue to increase. Therefore, dealing with environmental noise control has become a very important issue lately, especially in urban areas. Most typically, environmental noise is produced by traffic and the loud engines of cars, trucks, motorcycles, buses, trains and airplanes, especially if you happen to live or work near a railway station or an airport.

One practical and effective solution for the reduction of traffic noise can be found in the use of noise insulation materials that have the capacity to bring down vehicle noise levels to a minimum. Within acoustic test programs, sound insulation experts are able to provide you with a bespoke sound insulation solution and ensure effective noise control.

Effects of noise pollution

Most often, loud noise causes annoyance and irritation and it also has physiological effects on our breathing amplitude, blood pressure, blood sugar, and pulse. It can also interfere with ones’ performance as it lowers focus and concentration, can provoke headaches and increase the feelings of tiredness.

Noise-induced hearing loss is probably not noticeable at first and can often be confused with clogged ears. It may sound strange, but cleaning your ears from the accumulated ear wax can resolve the annoying ringing in the ears and improve your hearing ability. Hearing loss usually happens as a result of continuous exposure to medium or loud sounds and lead to gradual partial or complete hearing loss. It affects all age groups, one or both ears, and it can be temporary or permanent, depending on the causes.

Methods of control

The first step in protecting yourself from noise pollution is being fully aware of it, since it’s a subtle form of pollution. Start by turning off your electronics when not in use as their humming and buzzing sounds can cause stress to the ears.

Next, soundproof your living and working space – wear protective ear gear if you work in a noisy production facility, wear earplugs at night, use silencers in automobiles, place rugs on hardwood floors to muffle the sound, and if you can afford it, install better quality doors and windows to block outdoor noise.

For many people, a white noise sound machine that produces sounds of audible frequencies that can mask other noises is a great solution. Also, there are now noise canceling machines that intercept incoming sounds and cancel noise. They also come in the form of headphones and even smartphone apps.

Our ears are very delicate little machines that contain sensitive nerve endings in the inner ear, and if they get constantly exposed to noise, they can become damaged. Unfortunately, these cells can’t be replaced or regenerated so it’s of the utmost importance to go to any lengths and protect our ears from harm. By following the tips listed here for the situations that we can control and by insisting on our government bodies to introduce laws to control noise production and pollution in situations out of our reach, we can achieve great results in improving our environment, health, and quality of life.

 

Published by Emma Lawson