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Noise Pollution And Its Effect On The Public
Published Jan 19, 2023 IN Features,
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THE traditional defini­tion of noise is “un­wanted or disturbing sound”. Sound becomes unwanted when it either interferes with normal activities such as sleeping, conversation, or disrupts or diminishes one’s qual­ity in life. The fact that you can’t see, taste or smell it may help explain why it has not received as much atten­tion as other types of pollu­tion, such as air pollution, or water pollution. The air around us is constantly filled with sounds, yet most of us would probably not say we are surrounded by noise. Though for some, the persistent and escalating sources of sound can often be considered an annoy­ance. This “annoyance” can have major consequences, primarily to one’s overall health.

Noise pollution adverse­ly affects the lives of m illions of people. Studies have shown that there are direct links between noise and health. Problems related to noise include stress related illness, high blood pressure, speech interference, hearing loss, sleep disruption, and lost productivity. Noise induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) is the most common and often discussed health effect, but research has shown that exposure to constant or high levels of noise can cause countless adverse health effect.

Individuals can take many steps to protect themselves from the harm­ful effects of noise pol­lution. If people must be around loud sounds, they can protect their ears with hearing protection (e.g. ear plus or ear muffs). There are various strategies for combating noise in your home, school, workplace and the community.

Most of us are very used to the sounds we hear in everyday life. Loud mu­sic, the television, people talking on their phone, the traffic and even pets barking in the middle of the night. All of these have become a part of the urban culture and rarely disturb us. However, when the sound of the television keeps you from sleeping all night or the traffic starts to give you headache, it stops becoming just noise and start turning into noise pol­lution. For many of us, the concept of pollution is lim­ited to nature and resourc­es. However, noise that tends to disrupt the natural rhythm of life makes for one solid pollutant.

By definition, noise pol­lution takes place when there is either excessive amount of noise or an un­pleasant sound that causes temporary disruption in the natural balance. This definition is usually ap­plicable to sounds or noises that are unnatural in either their volume or their pro­duction.

Our environment is such that it has become difficult to escape noise. Even elec­trical appliances at home have a constant hum or beeping sound. By and large, lack of urban planning in­creases the exposure to unwanted sounds. This is why understanding noise pollution is necessary to curb it in time.

Causes of Noise Pollu­tion

1. Industrialization: Most of the industries use big machines which are capable of producing large amount of noise. Apart from that, various equipments like compressors, genera­tors, exhaust fans, grinding mills also participate in pro­ducing big noise. Therefore, you must have seen workers in these factories and indus­tries wearing ear plugs to minimize the effect of noise.

2. Poor Urban Planning: In most of the developing countries, poor urban plan­ning also play a vital role. Congested houses, large families sharing small space, fight over parking, frequent fights over basic amenities leads to noise pollution which may disrupt the en­vironment of society.

3. Social Events: Noise is at its peak in most of the social events. Whether it is marriage, parties, pub, disc or place of worship, people normally flout rules set by the local administration and create nuisance in the area. People play songs on full volume and dance till midnight which makes the condition of people living nearby pretty worse. In markets, you can see people selling clothes via making loud noise to attract the attention of people.

4. Transportation: Large num­ber of vehicles on roads, airplanes flying over houses, underground trains produce heavy noise and people get it difficult to get ac­customed to that. The high noise leads to a situation where in a normal person lose the ability to hear properly.

5. Construction Activities: Under construction activities like mining, construction of bridges, dams, buildings, stations, roads, flyovers take place in almost every part of the world. These construction activities takes place everyday as we need more buildings, bridges to accommo­date more people and reduce traffic congestion. The down point is that these construction equipments are too noisy.

6. Household Chores: We are surrounded by gadgets and use them extensively in our daily life. Gadgets like TV, mobile, mixer grinder, pressure cooker, vacuum cleaners, washing machine and dryer, cooler, air conditioners are minor contributors to the amount of noise that is produced but it affects the quality of life of your neighbourhood in a bad way.

While this form of pollution may seem harmless, it in fact has far reaching consequences. The adverse effects on the health of the environment are quite sever. Not only is the wildlife affected by the pollution, humans also face number of problems due to it.

Effects of Noise Pollution

1. Hearing problems: Any unwanted sound that our ears have not been built to filter can cause problems within the body. Our ears can take in a certain range of sounds without getting damaged. Man made noises such as jackhammers, horns, machinery, airplanes and even vehicles can be too loud for hearing range. Constant expo­sure to loud levels of noise can easily result in the damage of our ears pick up unconsciously to regulate our body’s rhythm.

2. Health Issues: Excessive noise pollution in working areas such as offices, construc­tion sites, bars and even in our homes can influence psycho­logical health. Studies show that the occurrence of aggres­sive behaviour, disturbance of sleep, constant stress, fatigue and hypertension can be linked to excessive noise levels. These in turn can cause more severe and chronic health issues later in life.

3. Sleeping Disorders: Loud noise can certainly hamper your sleeping pattern and may lead to irritation and uncom­fortable situations. Without a good night sleep, it may lead to problems related to fatigue and your performance may go down in office as well as at home. It is therefore recommended to take a sound sleep to give your body proper rest.

4. Cardiovascular Issues: Blood pressure levels, cardio-vascular disease and stress related heart prob­lems and increases heart beat rate as it disrupts the normal blood flow. Bringing them to a manageable level depends on our understanding noise pollution and how we tackle it.

5. Trouble Communicating: High decibel noise can put trouble and may not allow two people to com­municate freely. This may lead to misunderstanding and you may get difficult understanding the other person. Constant sharp noise can give you severe headache and disturb your emotional balance.

6.Effect on Wildlife: Wildlife faces far more problems than humans because noise pollution since they are more dependent on sound. Animals develop a better sense of hearing than us since their survival depends on it. The ill effects excessive noise begin at home. Pets react more aggressively in households where there is constant noise.

Different people in different places and in different times have consistently decried the menace of noise pollution leading to our being disoriented more easily and face many behaviouralproblems in nature, animals may suffer from hearing loss, which makes them easy prey and leads to dwindling populations. Others become inefficient at hunting, disturbing the balance of the eco-system.

Species that depend on mating calls to reproduce are often unable to hear these calls due to excessive man made noise. As a result, they are unable to reproduce and cause declining populations. Others require sound waves to echo-locate and find their way when migrating. Disturbing their sound signals means they get lost easily and do not migrate when they should. To cope up with the increasing sound around them, animals are becoming louder, which may further add to the pollution levels. This is why understanding noise pollution can help us lower the impact it has on the environment.

As of now, there do not exist many solutions to reduce sound pollution. On a personal level, everybody can help reducing the noise in their homes by lowering the volumes of the radio, music system and the television. Listening to music without headphones is also a good step forward. Removal of public loud speakers is another way in which the pollution can be countered.

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