Industry growth, an increasing number of vehicles and constant information overloads causes a significant and underestimated problem – noise pollution. The term noise pollution is used to define unwanted sounds that are released into the environment. Various research studies have proven that noise pollution imposes a number of negative impacts on mental and physical health. To understand the reasons behind these health conditions, people should consider the effects that are usually caused by noise pollution.
In a modern megalopolis, noise pollution arises from many sources, such as traffic, barking dogs, noisy neighbors, aircraft, verbal advertising in streets and many other environmental factors merging into one sound wall. A person may get used to perceiving these sounds and ignore them, but on a subconscious level, such constant noise exposure has a significant effect. Noise pollution is measured in decibels, and its intensity and duration determines the impact on an individual’s health.
Perhaps, one of the most obvious negative consequences of prolonged exposure to noise is hearing loss. Studies show that people who have been regularly exposed to intense noise, due to the nature of their work, have decreased hearing sensibility, compared to those who have worked in more quiet conditions. The most disturbing source of noise pollution stems from traffic (Healthy Hearing). Elevated sound levels cause changes in the structure of the inner ear which results in irreversible hearing loss.
Another negative effect caused by noise pollution is heightened irritability and sensitivity. Different sounds can have different impacts on a person; thus, one can get annoyed with the sound of water dripping from a faucet or car horns blowing, but relax to the sounds of falling rain. Natural sounds are much less irritating than artificial sounds such as traffic noise. However, natural sounds also create a sound wall effect as in the case of a waterfall or the wind blowing. In contrast, living near the motorway can lead to frustration and can seriously upset human nerves.
Speech and sleep interference is another issue that arises from noise pollution. It can be difficult to talk while standing on a busy street, and in this case, people often have to shout to be heard. Therefore, hearing and interpreting each other becomes a issue. The noise of a big city is one of the most popular reasons for sleep disorders. High levels of noise often wake people in the middle of the night and hinder them while trying to fall asleep again, thus breaking bio-rhythms and causing weakness and drowsiness during the next day.
Decreased work performance should also be mentioned in the list of negative impacts caused by noise pollution. High levels of noise can cause inaccuracy and inattentiveness, which can result in decreased productivity and additional stress. This is a crucial point for people whose workplaces are potentially dangerous, such as construction sites or factories. A misheard order or instruction, or the lack of concentration in such workplaces can lead to severe consequences.
It can be observed that noise pollution is a serious, though underestimated problem for the human population. It causes a number of negative effects both on health and the effectiveness of performing actions. Among the most obvious and significant negative effects are hearing loss, increased irritability, speech and sleep disturbances and decreased work performance. Even if a person becomes accustomed to constant noise and thinks that it does not affect them, changes still occur. Every individual, including scientific and healthcare organizations, should seek ways to minimize the aforementioned impacts and reduce their exposure to noise pollution.
1. “Reasons for Hearing Loss: Noise Pollution Levels.” Healthy Hearing. N.p., 5 July 2010. Web. 14 Dec. 2012. <http://www.healthyhearing.com/content/articles/Hearing-loss/Causes/47496-Noise-pollution-hearing-loss>.
2. “Noise Effects Handbook.” NPC Library. National Association of Noise Control Officials, n.d. Web. 22 Dec. 2012. <http://www.nonoise.org/library/handbook/handbook.htm>.