“No man should live where he can hear his neighbor’s dog bark.”
Noise Pollution: Causes, Effects & Solutions
Noise pollution, which is also referred to as sound pollution, can be defined as the spread of noise which causes adverse effects on the environment, including humans and animals.
Noise pollution causes various problems, including serious problems for human health. In the following, the causes, effects and solutions for noise pollutions are examined.
Causes of Noise Pollution
- Urban planning
- Public transportation
- Noise pollution from cars
- Domestic appliances
- Alarm systems
Insufficient urban planning can be regarded as one main cause of noise pollution. Especially in poor countries, people often live in crowded areas in which they will be surrounded by an excessive amount of noise all the time. This may come in the form of noise from neighbors or in the home itself.
Living with big families in small houses leads to noise pollution for the whole family. The population of spaces with too many people also increases the level of aggression, leading to fights and thus to an increased level of noise.
Additional examples include the fight for parking spaces or the long waiting times in hospitals, which further increases aggression levels and therefore noise.
Through the industrial revolution, our material wealth has been significantly increased since the production costs of goods have dropped dramatically since we can now use machines for all kinds of manufacturing processes.
However, there is also a downside to the industrialization process. The increasing use of machines leads to a higher level of noise pollution. This is both true for noise inside and also outside of factories.
For example, inside factories, workers are often exposed to high levels of noise, which forces them to wear earplugs or other mitigating things.
On the other hand, there are construction workers who operate machines like caterpillars or excavators which also cause an excessive amount of noise.
Although it is better for the environment in terms of the emission of greenhouse gases compared to the use of cars, public transport can be a great source of noise pollution.
The daily use of the tube can be quite loud in many cities. Moreover, the level of noise in public transport vehicles itself caused by other passengers phoning or also yelling on each other can be quite significant.
Noise pollution from cars
Noise pollution from the use of cars can be quite annoying. Especially on main streets, the level of noise is often that loud that people will not even be able to talk to each other.
This problem is mainly due to the use of cars consuming fossil fuels instead of electricity. Electric cars are much quieter than cars using fossil fuels and thus would be good alternatives in order to reduce noise pollution.
Construction sites also cause significant amounts of noise which impacts the surrounding environment in an adverse way. The use of big machines for construction activities usually leads to high levels of noise.
This is true for all kinds of construction activities, including the construction of roads, airports, dams, bridges or also mining activities.
Since our world population grows every day, it is quite logical that we need an increasing amount of construction activities in order to have enough infrastructure. However, this increase in construction also increases the overall noise pollution level.
Children need plenty of room and freedom to develop a healthy personality. This is important and useful for us as a society.
However, living next to schools or other childcare institutions may lead to exposure to high levels of noise.
Children naturally do not care too much about their noise levels and thus people living nearby are likely to be affected by an increased level of noise.
Another source of noise pollution is social events of all sorts. This can be concerts, festivals or all other kinds of events when large numbers of people gather and having fun.
Especially events with loud music can lead to noise pollution for people living in the affected area in a significant way. Moreover, people who are living nearby the festival locations will also suffer from noise pollution from the mass crowds which travel to the concert locations.
In our daily lives, we use all sorts of household appliances which cause noise pollution. This includes, among others, the use of mixers, washing machines or also our smartphones and TVs.
Since we use these devices on a daily basis and thus are quite used to them, we might not even be aware of the noise pollution. However, domestic appliances have a significant impact on noise pollution and thus on our well-being.
Agriculture and related processes are another significant source of noise pollution. The use of agricultural machines can cause significant noise levels which may impact people living nearby.
Moreover, agricultural processes also include the processing of grains. This is accomplished in factories and other facilities which itself usually cause some noise. Moreover, the transportation of the grain as well as of the final products cause additional noise.
Although the problem of noise pollution through alarm systems is usually not quite severe, it may happen that alarm systems react in the middle of the night and thus impact the sleep of people living in nearby areas.
Military interventions and also military training can cause high levels of noise pollution for its participants. There are many people who worked for the military and suffer from hearing losses in their later years.
Storms may also contribute to the problem of noise pollution. Especially when storms are quite strong, they may overturn trees and thus cause significant amounts of noise. This may be especially annoying in the night when people try to sleep but are adversely affected by this kind of noise pollution.
Heavy rainfalls are an additional source of noise pollution. Although natural, heavy rainfalls can lead to a significant increase in noise levels. Similar to storms, this may lead to an adverse impact on the sleep of people.
Another related topic is noise pollution through thunder. Thunderstorms can be quite noisy and also may frighten some people, especially children. This may lead to sleep disorders and other adverse effects.
Effects of Noise Pollution
- Psychological disorders
- Brain damages
- Hearing problems
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Communication issues
- Sleeping issues
- Effects on animals and plants
Noise pollution can cause all sorts of psychological disorders. In conjunction with our daily lives which become busier over time, our mental system will be in addition challenged through noise pollution.
People may not be able to handle all of this stress in a healthy way which may lead to mental disorders for some groups. A prominent example of psychological disorders in our society is the problem of burnout.
People are stressed in their job and also often feel social pressure. These factors alone will be enough to hurt the mental system of people.
Handling the additional factor of noise pollution will drive some people mad, since they will no longer be able to handle and process the information flow in a healthy manner and thus develop mental disorders which may lead to harmful behavior against other people.
Tinnitus is also quite related to the issue of noise pollution. Tinnitus may occur due to prolonged exposure to loud sounds. In most of the cases, Tinnitus is accompanied by a noise-induced hearing loss. Tinnitus may go away after a few hours or may also become a permanent issue when the exposure to noise is not stopped.
Stress is a main adverse effect of noise pollution. In our society, we already suffer from all kinds of stress factors. This includes stress related to our jobs, our families and also social stress. Noise is an additional factor that harms our mental condition.
Our brain has to deal with high numbers of impressions every day. However, if we have too many impressions, we will not be able to process this information properly and thus suffer from stress symptoms. This stress may translate into diseases like burnout or other serious health conditions.
Another related effect is that people often get annoyed by high levels of noise pollution. After a hard day at work, people usually want to have a quiet space in which they can relax and recover.
However, noise pollution may prevent this plan. If people get affected by noise pollution over a sufficient amount of time, their annoyance level is likely to increase which may also lead to mental issues and illness.
According to scientists, a prolonged exposure to high levels of noise can alter the behavior of our brain concerning the processing of information and also our speech processes. This may lead to speech problems or other kinds of disorders.
The effect of noise pollution on our brains is subject to extensive research. It is likely that not all effects on our brain are yet discovered. Long-term studies may reveal additional adverse effects of excessive noise exposure on our brain system.
Hearing issues are main effects of sound pollution. Every noise louder than 80dB is considered harmful to our hearing system if we are exposed to it long enough. This equals the noise of a dishwasher. Thus, in our daily life, we are often exposed to noise loud enough to cause hearing problems.
Moreover, if we are exposed to quite loud noises, e.g. club music which is turned on to the maximum, this can also cause temporary or even permanent hearing issues even if we only are exposed one time. An overview of the different dB-levels is given here.
Cardiovascular diseases are another adverse effect of noise pollution. In our daily lives, we are exposed to many different impressions. If we get too many impressions, our brain is unable to handle all of them properly which leads to stress. This stress can come from work, from our social lives or from strokes of fate.
Stress in turn is quite harmful to our health since it contributes to all kinds of diseases, including cardiovascular issues. The most common issue from noise pollution is heart attacks. Thus, noise pollution indirectly leads to cardiovascular issues which cause serious health threats.
It is quite obvious that an excessive amount of noise prevents us from communicating with each other since we simply are not able to hear what the other person says. This can often be seen in our daily lives when people walk on main streets.
Sometimes, the noise level is so loud that communicating with each other is almost impossible. Moreover, this is even more true for phone calls. If we do not wear decent headsets, we are likely to miss lots of information since we do not understand the other person properly.
Noise pollution can also cause sleeping problems, both directly and indirectly. It is obvious that when you are living near highways, you will suffer from the noise of cars all day and even at night which may cause sleeping issues. Moreover, you are likely to also suffer from sleeping issues through other mental effects.
Since you are exposed to so many impressions in your daily life, you may not be able to process all of it in a healthy way. As a result, your sleep may suffer since you are worried about many different things.
Effects on animals and plants
Noise pollution not only has serious health effects on humans, it also impacts animals in an adverse manner. Since our world population grows, we need an increasing amount of resources to meet the demand for food and housing.
This leads to deforestation and thus to an impact on the local wildlife. By invading these areas, the nearby wildlife gets exposed to the noise of our daily lives. This can cause a change in behavior of animals and can also cause animals to leave.
If animals leave their original locations, this can also lead to an impact on trees and plants since many plants need animals like birds and insects since they deliver pollen from one plant to the next and also disperse the seeds. Thus, noise pollution can have significant adverse effects, not only on humans but also on animals and plants.
Solutions for the Noise Pollution Problem
- Reduce sound in your space
- Turn off electronics
- Mask noise
- Close windows
- Move to another home with low level of noise pollution
- Build a fence
- Plant trees
- Install quiet spaces
- Electric cars
- Government regulations
- Be social
- Convince others
Reduce sound in your space
In order to avoid the adverse effects of noise pollution, it is crucial that we reduce the sound in our living and working spaces. This means turning down the noise of your phones or other devices. If you are working, make sure you can minimize the noise around you.
If you are working in an office, make sure that you ensure a quiet atmosphere so that everyone can work effectively and is not distracted by the sounds of each other.
If you work in jobs that expose you to loud noises on a daily basis like construction, it is crucial that you wear earplugs or other mitigating things.
When you come home from work and are stressed and tired, make sure that the sound exposure is turned down to a minimum. In this way, you can relax and reload your mental batteries. For example, this can mean reading a book instead of watching TV.
Turn off electronics
Another way to mitigate the problem of noise pollution is to turn off electronics. This can include your smartphone or other electronic devices like your computer or your TV. Turning off your smartphone from time to time can be quite relaxing.
Since you have to be available during your workday all the time, it can be beneficial for your mind if you just turn your smartphone off so that the information flow is stopped for a certain time.
Turning off other devices like computers or the TV can also prevent noise pollution. Instead, you can play some parlor games with your family.
In this way, you do yourself a favor by mitigating the sound pollution issue and at the same time you improve the connection to your family.
Another way to fight noise pollution is to mask noise. This can mean installing wind chimes or running water features in order to create a peaceful sound environment.
It is quite well known that our mind reacts quite sensitive to such measures, meaning that we can manipulate it to be able to better deal with the noise around us.
Another quite obvious measure against noise pollution is simply to close the windows if the noise source is located outside. This is especially relevant for people living near big roads or highways. By closing the windows, the noise pollution issue can be mitigated to a certain extent.
Move to another home with low level of noise pollution
Another way, although quite drastic, is to move from a high-level noise location to a home that is located in a quiet area.
This may increase the life quality of many people, especially for those who are already mentally sick from noise pollution.
Living near a forest instead of next to a highway can make a huge difference since the harmful effects of noise pollutions do no longer exist.
Build a fence
If you own a house and live in a noisy area, it may benefit you if you build a fence in order to mitigate the sound pollutions. Since fences are noise barriers, installing them may be a suitable measure in order to accomplish a quieter living space.
The same is true for trees. Trees are natural sound barriers which could cancel noise and thus help you to make your home quieter.
Install quiet spaces
Installing quiet spaces is also a suitable measure to fight the issue of noise pollution. Since we are exposed to noise almost every minute of our day, it would be beneficial to have some quiet spaces to relax. These quiet spaces can be installed at work or also at home.
Since cars which use fossil fuels are much louder than electric cars, a switch to electric cars would decrease noise levels significantly.
Another common way to quickly fight noise pollution is to wear earplugs. This may be a suitable measure against noise, especially if you live in noisy areas or near highways. By using earplugs, your sleeping quality can be increased significantly.
Another measure of sound pollution is the use of headphones. This can be a quite effective measure which is quite easy to integrate into your daily behavior.
Especially at work, headphones have the advantage that they kill noise and also make it easier to do phone calls. Thus, headphones can increase your productivity and at the same time reduce the noise level.
Another way to mitigate the noise pollution issue is to set government regulations. This can mean setting maximum levels of noise that are allowed for different tasks. It can also mean protecting certain areas from noise at all.
For example, it is quite senseful to protect forests or other spaces where people relax from noise pollution through appropriate regulations.
Everyone of us can reduce our noise level and thus our noise pollution which we impose on others. If everyone acts like this, we can collectively reduce the noise pollution in public spaces.
Education is always a main source to fight issues. This is also true for the noise pollution problem. We have to make sure people understand that noise pollution can have dramatic adverse consequences for their health and for the health of others. If people understand this, they are more likely to adjust their behavior.
We also have the responsibility to spread knowledge and convince others in order to be able to fight the noise pollution problem in an effective way.
Noise pollution has become a serious problem in our nowadays society. We are overwhelmed by so many impressions every day that our brain can hardly handle all of them. This may lead to mental illness and other mental problems.
Noise pollution intensifies these problems since it takes additional mental space. This leads to an increasing level of stress and can cause additional health issues like heart attacks. There are many ways in which we can fight noise pollution in an effective way.
By doing so, we can improve our life quality significantly.
About the author
My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people of all ages about our environmental problems and how everyone can make a contribution to mitigate these issues.
As I went to university and got my Master’s degree in Economics, I did plenty of research in the field of Development Economics.
After finishing university, I traveled around the world. From this time on, I wanted to make a contribution to ensure a livable future for the next generations in every part of our beautiful planet.
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