You may have asked yourself before, what is the effect of noise on health? Most of the world’s cities suffer from noise, and it has become annoying to many people in the world. But the damage is not only caused by the disturbance, but the noise can also affect your health. Since 1972 awareness of the harmful health effects of noise pollution has been so strong that the US Environmental Protection Agency has passed the Noise Control Act to create a national policy aimed at promoting an environment for all Americans without exposure to noise that threatens their health. This makes us wonder how bad noise pollution is.
What is noise pollution?
Noise pollution is not just about rush hour traffic, near the airport, or if your business is near a construction site. And to understand noise pollution, do a little experiment: go to your favorite place in nature and put headphones over your ears, turn off her smartphone. Just focus on what you hear.. you will only hear the sound of water, or the sound of a dog or anything around you.
Odds are you might be in terrible silence. This means that you are exposed to more noise than you realize. You are away from appliances, computers, traffic, or air conditioners and these are the components in the surrounding environment. The use of headphones in video games and listening to music also contribute to the noise, so much so that researchers consider it a separate category called social noise.
Therefore, we are faced with a definition of noise pollution, which is any sound that reduces the quality of your life. However, this seemingly simple definition may be more complex than you think.
How does noise affect health
1- Noise and hearing loss
The most obvious effect of noise is hearing loss due to the intensity of the noise. Any noise above 85 decibels (the decibel is the unit of sound intensity) can damage your hearing. Everyday life is full of noise above 85 dB, such as: the sound of a lawn mower motor (91 dB), the hair dryer (94 dB), headphones that are too loud (100 dB), the sound of an airplane taking off (120 dB). These are just a few of the common noise sources that can damage your hearing. When any noise occurs above 85 decibels, hearing damage occurs after about 8 hours of exposure, but at 91 decibels – an increase of only about 6 decibels – the damage may occur after only two hours.
2- Noise and decreased mental strength
It is well established that intense noise reduces learning outcomes and cognitive performance in children. The more children in the classroom are exposed to noise from planes, road traffic, or trains, the lower the children’s ability to read, memory and standardized test performance will be compared to children who are not exposed to noise in school.
3- Noise and problems of the heart and blood vessels
Noise pollution has been linked to cardiovascular disease, and a recent article in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology offers a suggestion as to why: Noise leads to a stress reaction that involves the nervous system’s response to an increase in stress hormones such as cortisol. Over time, this can damage the cardiovascular system.
4- Noise and sleep problems
Other than hearing damage, sleep disturbances are the most harmful effects of noise exposure. The short-term effects of poor sleep are mood changes, daytime sleepiness, and decreased cognitive abilities. One of the long-term effects of poor sleep is cardiovascular disease.
5- Noise and psychological stress
A study in the Journal of Sound and Vibration found that people in homes exposed to one-sided traffic — a maximum of 68 decibels, which is the average noise of TV sound — experienced reduced daytime relaxation and psychological improvement. But these negative effects are greatly reduced if residents move to the other side of the house that is not exposed to road noise.
How can I protect myself from noise?
Hearing protection from noise
Whether you choose cheap, multipurpose or custom made earplugs, you can find the things that protect your hearing to suit your needs and budget. There is usually a noise reduction ratio number on the earbuds. The higher this number, the better the sound and better noise reduction. Here are some common situations in which you can find over-the-counter hearing protection:
- During sleep.
- Shooting (whether hunting or at a long range).
- Listen to live music.
- playing music.
- Child safety (use earmuffs because they are safer and easier for children to use).
You can also protect your hearing by simply turning off the TV or music, whether you’re listening to them with headphones or headphones. The general rule is to listen to your music device for no more than 60 minutes at a volume of no more than 60%.
- Concealment: Depending on the source of the noise this may be ideal. Stealth is when one sound is used to draw the focus away from other, less pleasant sounds. White noise, classical music, and nature sounds are some examples of masking using headphones or speakers. In addition to that, there are plenty of white noise and natural sound apps available for your smartphone.
- Noise-canceling headphones: Many of the apps that are categorized as noise-canceling apps are actually noise-canceling apps. True noise cancellation can only be achieved through a combination of microphone, circuitry and loudspeaker, so true noise cancellation can only be done in noise canceling headphones. These headphones capture noise and create a surround sound of incoming and annoying sound. Basically, they really cancel out the sounds. In addition, the headphones are made with more sound-absorbing materials than conventional headphones.
How can I reduce the noise pollution that I am exposed to?
Sound waves can be absorbed and used to your advantage. Here are a few ideas that will help you look at your home a little differently. And how do you set up your living space.
- Flooring: If you have hard floors you can put some carpeting. Put some carpeting in rooms that make a lot of noise and that have a TV, or in exercise rooms.
- Home Furniture: If your furniture is in the middle of the room, push it against the walls to absorb the sound waves that make it pass through the wall. The larger your furniture, the more sound will be absorbed. You can add some side pillows, curtains, or something else that absorbs sound.
- Bookcase: Put bookcases on walls that get a lot of noise. The bookcase absorbs sound and acts like a second wall, and the paper inside the books absorbs a lot of noise too.
- Curtains: Thin curtains can absorb sound. If you have many blinds on all the windows, switch them to give more absorbency to both sides of the house to get rid of more noise.
- Appliances: Close the door when electric washing machines are running. And run the dishwasher in the evening when you are not in the kitchen. And if the larger appliances are in unfinished areas, you can put some old blankets or clothes on the walls as they act as noise absorbers.