What is Noise Pollution and Causes and Control Measures

What Is Noise Pollution | Effects of Noise Pollution | How to Prevent Noise Pollution

Noise Pollution is defined as the excessive noise of a higher threshold for a prolonged period. 

World Health Organisation has commented that exposure to sound levels up to 70 decibels does not affect human health, no matter how long the exposure is. But, if these sound levels exceed 70 dB, then it may start affecting your health if the exposure is for more than 8 hours.

If you are living in such areas where you are exposed to high noise levels, then you should take precautions to reduce the harmful effects of the noise.

Additionally, any type of unwanted noise is included in the noise pollution too. If someone is tapping their feet, or blowing whistles for fun while you are trying to work are also categorised under noise pollution if they interrupt your concentration, and in turn your productivity and efficiency.

The sources of noise pollution around your house and some of the measures to control it are described here.

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Some of the Noise Pollution Causes or Sources:

Some sources are present around your home that causes noise pollution. Few are such that they won’t even come to your notice if you are habituated by the noise.

Here are some of the sources discussed below:

  • If your house is located near a busy street, then the traffic may produce unnecessary high decibels of noise up to 85 dB. The continuous noise of cars, bikes, and other vehicles may make you so acquainted with it that you may not even notice.
  • The construction works in the vicinity may produce sounds like drilling and other heavy equipment.
  • If an airport is present in a short radius, then also noise pollution may occur. The elevated sound of air traffic and the sound of aeroplane take-off and landing may also cause the noise of higher decibels.
  • Open space offices may also produce sounds of the workplace.
  • The industries, if located nearby, produce sounds of generators, fans, and other machinery.
  • If cultural infrastructure like halls and auditoriums are present, then hustle-bustle by people and loud noise of music may also cause noise pollution.
  • In festive seasons, noise pollution is also caused by firecrackers, fireworks, loudspeakers, etc.

Besides this, some of the household activities also induce noise pollution. These activities may include a washing machine, dishwashers, coolers, fans, vacuum cleaners, stereo, lawn movers, etc.


Side Effect of Noise Pollution on Human Health:

Because of noise pollution, human health is adversely affected. Even if we do not realise, the deterioration in health takes place.

Some of the side effects of noise pollution are listed out below:

1. Hypertension:

Noise pollution Control
Hypertension
  • Noise pollution affects blood pressure directly. Hypertension is thus one of the direct effects of noise pollution.

2. Loss in Hearing Ability:

  • Exposure to high noise levels for a long duration may affect the hearing ability of a person.
  • If the noise levels exceed 140 dB, then hearing ability starts getting affected. Children are more sensitive- they should not be exposed to noise above 120 dB.
  • The noise may not only be due to traffic or machinery, but even headphones or loud music may also affect the hearing ability.

3. Disturbance in Sleeping Habits:

Noise pollution Control
Disturbance in Sleeping Habits
  • Noise pollution also affects mental health. Due to this, the sleeping pattern, duration of sleep, quality of sleep – may be affected.
  • This may lead to serious consequences and it may also affect the performance standards of an individual.

4. Reduction in Mental Development of Children:

  • The physical organs of children are under the development stage.
  • Children are affected physically and even psychologically too.
  • Hearing impairment may even occur.

5. Irritable Behavior:

  • The noise pollution wears out mental health.
  • It induces irritation and annoyance in the person.

Ears never stop working. Even while you are asleep, they constantly process the sound for you. So plug in earbuds while sleeping if there is excessive noise in the environment.

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Side Effects of Noise Pollution on Wildlife and Marine Life:

Noise pollution Control
Side Effects of Noise Pollution on Wildlife and Marine Life

Does noise pollution only affect humans? No, it is not so. Drilling works in the ocean, surveys carried out for the seismic purposes, SONAR devices, shipping vessels, etc produce loud sound in the oceans.

This results in noise pollution in the oceans. High decibel sound affects marine life in the ocean.

The most affected species is the whale. Whale locates its prey and orients itself with the help of sound waves. They even communicate with each other with the help of sound waves.

Even dolphins also locate their food with the help of sound.

SONAR devices can produce noise as loud as 235 dB that can travel hundreds of kilometres in the water. Research has proved that whales and other marine species are affected by this noise and they are even endangered. As whales use echolocation, these sound waves lead a large number of whales to the shores.

When oil or gas deposits are to be located in the depths of the ocean, tow devices like air guns release pulses of sound towards the ocean floor. These sound blasts can damage the hearing ability of marine animals. And, this alters their natural behaviour.

Thus, excessive sound in the ocean affects the feeding habits, migration patterns, reproduction of these animals depending on the sound direction.

These sound levels might even cause their death by haemorrhage in extreme conditions.

Air traffic causes serious interference with the avian animals- birds.

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How to Control Noise Pollution at Home?

Easy to implement steps under Budget after moving in the home

1. Keep the Roadside Windows Closed:

  • This is one of the practical and most feasible solutions.
  • It does not even cost anything extra! You can close the window shutters, especially during high traffic hours.

2. Earplugs:

  • Earplugs act as cut-off from the outside noise.
  • It is available in just a few bucks hence proving to be an effective solution.
  • A night of healthy and sound sleep can be enjoyed by wearing them.
  • If you are working in an industrial environment or noisy office, then you can go for these options.
  • A word of caution- do not push them too far inside the ear as it may damage the delicate eardrum otherwise.
  • Also, prolonged usage of earplugs without ample care can cause the wax to accumulate or even cause an ear infection. To avoid this, you can clean your ear and add ear drops regularly.
  • Even ear muffs can serve the purpose. It is quite comfortable too and prevents you from catching a cold at the same time.

3. Earphones with Noise Cancellation:

  • Noise cancellation earphones have a feature to filter the unwanted surrounding noise.
  • These earphones are particularly handy for the people who are exposed to loud noises of construction, industries, etc.

4. Layout of Home:

  • You can put all the equipment producing noise away from the region you are using the most.
  • Washing machines, dishwashers, grinders, etc can be placed away from the study where a silent and peaceful atmosphere is needed.

5. Sound-friendly Furniture:

  • Furniture if selected of proper quality helps in reducing the vibrations of sound and echoes.
  • Furniture like lounge chairs, couches, cabinets, shelves, etc can serve this purpose besides providing a space for storage or seating.
  • If noise is coming across a wall, erecting a bookshelf or cabinet on that wall may reduce the sound.

6. Wall Hanging:

Noise pollution Control
Wall Hanging to Avoid Noise
  • Even wall paintings can also aid in sound reduction.
  • Empty walls can produce more echo.
  • Canvas paintings can also help in reducing noise.

7. Rugs and Carpets:

  • It is also a simple way of reducing the noise, especially from hard floors.
  • By spreading carpets, the noise produced due to walking can be absorbed up to 34 decibels.
  • Wooden or laminate flooring reduces noise by just 6 %.
  • You can even add a fun touch to the rugs as they are available in many different types.
  • From the hand-woven rug to the fluffy rug, you can try out and consider where your preference lies.

8. Meditate:

Noise pollution Control
Meditation in Home
  • Meditation provides peace of mind.
  • It teaches us to create a barrier to external noise.
  • This can help us to ignore the noise produced externally.
  • Even yoga and breathing exercises may help.
  • Practice them and find out what works out for your body and situation.

9. Play Electronics at Low Volume:

  • Reduce the volume of computers, speakers, gaming systems, etc.
  • Headphones have become really problematic in today’s world. People do not even realize how they are exposed to risk as we all have become too habituated with the noise. Here, you should keep in mind that if you cannot hear what someone is saying beside you, then the volume is too high!
  • Reduce the playback time too. Don’t keep them playing in the background when you are not listening to it. (it will even save your electricity cost.)
  • You can even place padding below the noisy equipment like blenders so that they can absorb the noise.
  • When you are visiting a concert or show, stand at a greater distance from the speakers kept in the audience.

10. Turn Off Appliances:

  • Do not leave the appliances on when not in use.
  • When they are left on, they constantly produce noise, even if it is not much audible.

11. Lubrication of Machinery:

  • If the machines are lubricated with oil from time to time, then friction between its movable parts is reduced.
  • This results in low noise production.
  • Also, it helps in increasing the life of the machinery and also reduces its maintenance cost.

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12. Shut the Door:

  • If you are tired of the noise of your nosy neighbors or the noise of people, you can keep the door shut.
  • Also, you can shut the door of the room where noisy appliances like dishwashers, washing machines, blenders, and grinders are running to reduce the noise.

13. Masking the Unpleasant Sounds:

  • You can cut off the unpleasant sounds by introducing soothing and pleasant sounds to reduce irritability.
  • Awful noise can be canceled by this method.
  • You can achieve this even by hanging a simple wind chime.
  • Sometimes, it may seem contradictory, but it is a quite effective and budget-friendly solution to get rid of the bothersome sounds.

14. Be Empathetic of Others:

  • Be considerate while playing television or music.
  • Loud noise can disturb too many people surrounding you.
  • Loud music, barking dogs, horns, etc can create too much noise.

15. Report the Breaking of Rules to Authority:

  • You can complain about a noisy neighbour if he is not following the established rules to the respective government agencies.

16. Do Check the Noise Levels at Regular Intervals:

  • Being aware of the issues around us is the only effective way to tackle them and find a long term solution.
  • You can report the breach of such laws only when you are aware of it.
  • Do try to keep noise levels under 55 decibels during the day and 30 decibels after nightfall.

Here is a list is given below with the decibels; you can refer it:

Whisper30 dB
Normal conversation 60 dB
Office noise70 dB
Lawn mover80-90 dB
Noisy restaurant80-90 dB
Motorcycle100 dB
Sports crowd120 dB
Concert120 dB
Gunshot140 dB

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Low-Cost Options to Reduce Noise:

17. Double-Paned Windows:

Noise pollution Control
Double Paned Windows
  • By using double-paned windows, installing weather stripping, or adding insulation, you can reduce the noise levels.
  • These can also help with the insulation and reduces the heating and cooling bills.
  • Even if you do not go for the full-fledged insulating procedure, just weather-stripping the windows can also cut off the outside noise to a considerable level.

18. Insulating Your Home:

  • You can provide insulation to your home to reduce the noise.
  • You can soundproof your walls, ceiling, flooring, etc. for this purpose.
  • It can also reduce the electricity bills in your home.

19. Fencing Around Your Home:

  • Fencing can also be installed to reduce the sound waves and vibrations produced by it.

20. Flooring:

Noise pollution Control
Vinyl Flooring
  • Vinyl flooring can reduce noise levels to a great extent.
  • Even wooden flooring help in noise reduction, though they are not as effective as vinyl flooring.

21. Wall Panels:

  • Even wall panels can help in reducing the noise to a certain level.
  • But not all panels serve the above purpose, so select the panel carefully.

22. Tree Plantation:

  • One of the most effective solutions to cut-off the external noise is to plant more trees or plants in the courtyard.
  • The plantation also helps in improving air quality and aesthetic appearance.

23. Wall Partitions:

  • Installing wall partitions around the area susceptible to high noise can also help in reducing the noise to the other rooms.
  • This can be effective when installed around the washing machine space or other such locations that produce a loud noise.

24. Replacement of Old Appliances:

  • If the life period of an electrical appliance is over, then you should consider replacing it.
  • This not only reduces the noise but also helps with the electricity bills.
  • Also, maintenance cost increases too much after some time. Hence, such appliances are required to be replaced.

25. No Horn Zone:

  • If your home is nearer to a busy street, then you can negotiate with the authority to declare the particular area as no horn zone, if possible.
  • This can curb the irritable noise of the vehicles.

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Measures to Reduce Noise Pollution at a Glance:

1.     Keep the windows or doors near the street- closed.
2.     Use earplugs or earmuffs to avoid shrieking noise.
3.     Even noise cancellation headphones can be used to avoid the loud outside noise.
4.     Put the noisy equipment like washing machine, grinder, etc away from the bedroom or study.
5.     Chose furniture that reduces echoes and vibration.
6.      Hanging wall paintings on the wall across which the noise is coming.
7.      Spreading rugs or carpets on the floor can help curb the noise.
8.      Meditation, yoga, or breathing exercise can calm the mind and prevent the side-effects of noise pollution.
9.      Electronics like television, speakers, earphones, etc should be played at low volume.
10.  Electrical appliances should be turned off when not in use.
11.  Machines should be lubricated with oil at regular intervals.
12.  Shut the door from which noise is penetrating in the room.
13.  Play ambient music to cut off the unpleasant sound.
14.  Avoid loud music from television, etc so that neighbours are not disturbed.
15.  if someone breaks the noise regulations imposed in your area, report it to the authority.
16.  Check the noise levels in your area whether they are underspecified limits or not.
17.  Use double-paned windows or apply weather-shedding to the windows.
18.  Construct sound-proof walls for your new home.
19.  Provide a fence around the boundaries of your home to cut-off external noise.
20.  Vinyl flooring helps in reducing the noise to a great extent.
21.  Installing wall panels can also help in cutting the noise.
22.  Planting trees around your home can absorb the noise.
23.  Erect wall partitions to allocate separate spaces for noisy equipment.
24.  Older appliances whose life is over should be replaced.
25.  Horns can be restricted if the street is very busy.

Conclusion:

Noise pollution is becoming an increasing threat to us.                                             

Also, we are getting so habituated with the noise that we do not even realise we are exposed to noise pollution, especially the urban lifestyle. Wherein noise like traffic, DJ, etc has become a part of everyday life.

As our subconscious mind has accepted this noise to be normal, we need to pay extra attention to prevent the harmful effects caused by noise pollution.

Above are few of the measures that can help to avoid the noise- some of them are as simple as plugging in earplugs or closing the window!


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