Did you know that the sound from a heavy truck moving down the road – approximately 85dB (decibel) – can have an adverse effect on your health? It isn’t just rock musicians who suffer from hearing loss due to exposure to loud noises – noise pollution can cause a host of ailments, from tinnitus to depression.
Exposure to sounds as loud as 100 dB should be limited to just 4 times a year. But many people who live in larger cities hear the sounds of jackhammers or construction tools like circular saws whirring on a daily basis? How about ambulance and police sirens, or the loud ‘hum’ of traffic on a nearby expressway? What about low-flying airplanes, with their engines blaring in your ear drums?
Even reports from the US Environmental Protection Agency and the World Health Organization admit that noise pollution is bad for us – yet we are not sure exactly what to do about this issue.
“High blood pressure, cardiovascular problems, sleeplessness, annoyance, diminished work production and poor school performance can result from prolonged exposure to noise.”
Hagler, 74, a retired physician who has spent the past decade researching the impacts of noise pollution, says:
“How do you convince people that secondhand noise is a problem? It’s a lot like cigarettes were 20 years ago. It’s spooky how similar it is”
The problem is indeed more serious than one might expect. Deepak Prasher, a professor of audiology at University College in London, states:
“The new data indicate that noise pollution is causing more deaths from heart disease than was previously thought – perhaps hundreds of thousands around the world. Until now, the burden of disease related to the general population’s exposure to environmental noise has rarely been estimated in nonoccupational settings at the international level.”
Prasher also points out that the health impacts associated with sleep deprivation alone, due to noise pollution, costs about 903,000 years of healthy living each year.
Even fetuses and small children are suffering due to the noise pollution in our world:
“. . .evidence collected since 1974 that fetuses and newborns exposed to excessive noise may suffer noise-induced hearing loss and other health effects.”
Some noise pollution can’t be addressed unless it is taken care of at industrial levels, but here’s how you can reduce that annoying loudness at home:
7 Ways to Reduce Noise Pollution at Home
- 1. If you have hard floors, rugs will help to dampen sound.
- 2. Windows are a known weak point in many structures. Installing better windows, sealing window frames, or hanging curtains (even thin ones) will help reduce the sound coming from outside.
- 3. If you have noisy neighbors on one side of you, put furniture or a big bookshelf (preferably full of books) against that wall.
- 4. If you have laundry machines in a separate room, shut the door. Also try running appliances like dishwashers and bread machines when you’re getting ready to leave the house for a bit. When you’re gone they can make as much noise as they want.
- 5. Create white noise by turning on a fan, or purchasing a white noise machine that masks louder sounds.
- 6. Use earplugs
- 7. Move. Several cities (such as San Francisco) have even published noise maps showing which streets and areas are the loudest