Pollution is the introduction of harmful materials or harmful energy into an environment. It can be natural or artificial. Well-known types of pollution are air pollution, water pollution and soil pollution. The lesser-known types are light pollution and noise pollution. One can notice the difference between an urban environment and a rural environment distinctly. This difference can be attributed to the presence or the lack of noise pollution. Noise pollution is particularly lethal for kids. One can use kids earmuffs to solve this problem. Let’s learn about how noise pollution occurs and try to understand its ill effects.
How is sound measured?
The intensity of sound is measured in terms of decibels(dB). It is a logarithmic measurement, which means that it is not linear. For example, the humming of a refrigerator measures to be around 40 decibels, a conversation between two people measures approximately 60 decibels, sporting events and concerts measure up to 94-110 decibels. Sound is what we hear; noise is unwanted sound. Therefore, what we call noise changes from person to person. Generally, noise is unpleasant comparatively. Noise can be harmful when they are too loud, even for a brief time, or loud and long-lasting. The WHO(World Health Organization) prescribes noise above 65 decibels as noise pollution. Any noise above 75 decibels is harmful and any noise above 120 decibels is painful. Such noise damages the sensitive part of the inner ear. It eventually leads to Noise-Induced Hearing Loss(NIHL). NIHL in kids can be avoided by using kids earmuffs. Noise pollution is thus an invisible threat.
According to a European agency, noise pollution is responsible for around 16,000 premature deaths and 72,000 hospitalisations in Europe alone. Between 28–32% of the Australian workforce is likely to work in an environment where they are exposed to loud noise at work.
As well as causing deafness, loud noises can be harmful to human health.
- It can cause high blood pressure, headache and in severe cases, even heart attacks.
- Noise can cause stress, hysteria, depression and anxiety in humans as well as in animals.
- It can have a repulsive effect on our behaviour, it can cause aggressiveness and irritability.
- It leads to a loss of focus and concentration. Noise can alter our sleep cycle leading to fatigue and laziness.
- Noise pollution causes an imbalance in the lives of wildlife. Noise pollution makes it difficult for them to accomplish tasks such as navigate, find food, attract mates, and avoid predators, which affects their ability to survive.
While other forms of pollution are decreasing(thanks to global goals such as Sustainable Development Goals), noise pollution is on the rise. How can we prevent this?
Prevention, Mitigation and Solution
- Awareness of noise pollution is crucial to beat this invisible enemy. People should be made aware of the gravity of the situation. Environmental education is the way forward.
- Wearing earmuffs or earplugs while doing a loud activity. Protecting the ears of children who can’t protect their own by using kids earmuffs.
- Using electric vehicles make less noise and are environmentally friendly.
- Insulating house with noise absorbing materials.
- Better traffic management can lead to lesser traffic jams, and in turn, less noise pollution.
- Quiet road surfaces and low-noise tyres can contribute to the reduction of traffic noise substantially.
Noise pollution is regarded as “the silent killer”, with potentially severe consequences for both our physical as well as mental health. Noise pollution affects 34.39% of Australia’s urban areas compared to air pollution, which affects only 17.51% of Australia’s urban areas. Noise pollution is thus a pressing issue that must be dealt with more seriousness.