Noise Pollution : Causes & Control


Many people don’t realise noise pollution is an important problem, impacting human health, including theirs. Of course, there are many more premature deaths associated with air pollution than for noise. However, noise seems to have a larger impact on indicators related to quality of life and mental health. In fact, according to some World Health Organization (WHO) findings, noise is the second largest environmental cause of health problems, just after the impact of air pollution (particulate matter).

v  Definition

The word noise is derived from a Latin word ‘Nausea’ which means sickness in which one feels the need to vomit. Noise pollution is an unwanted or excessive sound that can have deleterious effects on human health, wildlife, and environmental quality.

Not all sound is considered noise pollution. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines noise above 65 decibels (dB) as noise pollution. To be precise, noise becomes harmful when it exceeds 75 decibels (dB) and is painful above 120 dB. As a consequence, it is recommended noise levels be kept below 65 dB during the day and indicates that restful sleep is impossible with nighttime ambient noise levels in excess of 30 dB.

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v  Causes (sources) of noise pollution

Multiple causes may attribute to noise pollution. Some of the most popular causes are listed below.

1. Industrialization

Most of the industries use big machines which are capable of producing a large amount of noise. Apart from that, various equipment like compressors, generators, exhaust fans, grinding mills also participates in producing big noise.

2. Poor Urban Planning

In most of the developing countries, poor urban planning also plays a vital role. Congested houses, large families sharing small space, fight over parking, frequent fights over basic amenities lead to noise pollution, which may disrupt the environment of society.

4It doesn’t just affect their sleep and hours of rest but also has an adverse effect on the development and well-being of children.

3. Social Events

Noise is at its peak in most of the social events. Whether it is marriage, parties, pub, disc or place of worship, people normally flout rules set by the local administration and create a nuisance in the area.

People play songs on full volume and dance till midnight, which makes the condition of people living nearby pretty worse. In markets, you can see people selling clothes via making a loud noise to attract the attention of people.

4. Transportation

A large number of vehicles on roads, airplanes flying over houses, underground trains produce heavy noise, and people find it difficult to get accustomed to that.

The high noise leads to a situation wherein a normal person loses the ability to hear properly.

5. Construction Activities

Under construction activities like mining, construction of bridges, dams, buildings, stations, roads, flyovers takes place in almost every part of the world.

However, while this does help us to some degree, in the long run, the noise from construction activities hinders the hearing abilities of individuals exposed to this sound.

6. Household Chores

We people are surrounded by gadgets and use them extensively in our daily life. Gadgets like TV, mobile, mixer grinder, pressure cooker, vacuum cleaners, washing machine and dryer, cooler, air conditioners are minor contributors to the amount of noise that is produced. Still, it affects the quality of life of your neighborhood in a bad way.

While this form of pollution may seem harmless, it, in fact, has far-reaching consequences. The adverse effects on the health of the environment are quite severe.

7. Noise From Air Traffic

While many find it difficult to believe, air traffic too contributes to significant levels of noise pollution. Noise from a single aircraft may produce sounds of up to 130 dB. Now, imagine the amount of noise produced by the numerous aircraft traveling our airspace.

8. Catering and Nightlife

When the weather is good, restaurants, bars, and terraces spill outside. Late night parties continue with loud music and unnecessary noise made by the party mongers. These can produce more than 100 dB. The noise from pubs and clubs are also included.

9. Animals’ Sound

The noise made by animals cannot go unnoticed, particularly a howling or barking dog. These can produce noise around 60-80 dB.

vPrevention and control of noise pollution

Total elimination of annoying sound is quite impossible. However noise pollution can be minimized by taking the following important measures.

ü  Reduction of noise at source

ü  Reduction of population exposed

ü  Duration of noise exposure

Some of the tips that can assist in controlling noise pollution include---

I.   Use of earplugs: One of the cost-effective tips for reducing noise pollution is wearing earplugs. They can be worn in working places and while sleeping to reduce the amount of noise from the surrounding environment. They have health benefits such as healthy sleeping habits and prevent damage to the eardrum.

II.  Soundproofing: Industrial plants that produce a lot of noise from their machinery can use soundproof materials to reduce high sound frequencies. At home, one can install soundproofing materials that block the noise and associated vibrations. Double-pane windows, for example, can be an impressive method for preventing noise pollution.

III.   Closing the windows: To prevent unwanted noise from entering into the house and buildings, one can simply close the windows and open them when it is quite.

IV.   Jarring horns: To reduce the noise that is associated with continuous hoots in traffic, vehicles can install horns that have jarring sounds. In cases where the exhaust pipes are damaged, they should be repaired and noisy trucks banned.

V.      Law enforcement: The state and local governments should have proper laws that prevent noise pollution near residential areas. They can give authority to community law enforcers who will have the mandate of checking noise polluters. An example is whereby laws are enforced such that industries or noise-producing businesses are set up and operated away from schools, colleges, hospitals, and residential areas.

VI. Noise-canceling headphones: They can be used by workers to reduce noise pollution in industrial and construction workers. They filter any unwanted noise and prevent it from reaching the ears.

VII.  Use of barriers or go green by planting trees: A simple way of reducing the vibrations and strong sound waves is through the use of barriers such as fences and planting trees around the house. These barriers would absorb the waves and reduce environmental noise significantly.

VIII.  Lubrication and better maintenance of machines: When the moving parts of machines and engines are well maintained and lubricated, it not only improves efficiency but also aids in reducing noise. The reason is that lubrication and proper maintenance reduces friction between moving parts.

IX. The use of creativity in house and office layout: Being innovative in the placement of equipment can significantly help in reducing noise pollution. Noisy house appliances and office equipment can be placed at the far ends of the house or office, therefore, reducing the levels of noise that reaches resting or working areas.

X.  Use of silencers: The noise from ducts, exhaust or convey systems etc can be controlled by making use of sound absorption silencers. For this purpose glass wool or mineral wool covered with a sheet of perforated metal for mechanical protection is suitable.

v Deduction

Noise pollution is an invisible danger. It cannot be seen, but it is present nonetheless, both on land and under the sea. Noise pollution is considered to be any unwanted or disturbing sound that affects the health and well-being of humans and other organisms. Hence necessary arrangements have to be made and steps should be stricktly followed to control noise pollution.

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