Noise Pollution: How Bad is it, How Bad Could it Get, What are the Effects?
Noise, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is any
sound that "lacks agreeable musical quality or is noticeably
unpleasant" or "is undesired or interferes with
one's hearing of something." When this noise stems from
your environment, such as traffic, airplanes or a booming
car radio, it's known as noise pollution.
These days, unless you live in a very isolated area, it's
hard to escape noise pollution. It comes from many sources
that are all around us, including these below:
Common Sources of Noise Pollution
Industry and agriculture
Recreational vehicles (snowmobiles, all-terrain
Appliances (garbage disposals, blenders, vacuum
Guns, hunting rifles
Tools and devices for home use (lawnmowers, snow
blowers, chainsaws, power tools)
Music (personal stereos, car stereos, rock concerts,
Humans (yelling, cheering crowds, dropping items)
When Noise Becomes Dangerous
Some 65 million Americans are exposed to noise levels
that can get in the way of their work and sleep.
Everyone, no matter what your age, is at risk from noise
pollution, according to the National Institute on Deafness
and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). Most obviously
is the risk of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), which can
occur when you are exposed to too much loud noise over a period
The NIDCD says that 30 million people are at risk of NIHL
right now in their homes, workplace and recreational settings,
and 10 million Americans already have permanently damaged
hearing as a result. Noise related hearing
loss is also the most common work-related disease.
But there are other, less obvious, noise risks too. In fact,
a study published in the June 4 issue of the British journal
The Lancet found that children exposed
to high levels of aircraft noise suffered from impairments
in their reading ability. Specifically, a 5-decibel
(dB) increase in aircraft noise delayed reading age in children
by up to two months. Kids exposed to both aircraft and traffic
noise also appeared to have increases in stress and a reduced
quality of life.
Noise pollution can be a major source of stress for adults
too, leading not only to stress-related diseases but also
to sleepless nights, aggression and irritability. According
to Eddie Chandler, a stress management specialist, " ...
Sounds can literally make you sick. Noise pollution can increase
your stress levels and create severe tension in your daily
life. It can increase your heart rate, raise your blood pressure
and even result in insomnia."
If noise pollution is a source of tension in your life, we
highly recommend you give The
Pure Relaxation CD a try. It combines guided meditations
with music to calm your mind, soothe your emotions and create
a state of deep relaxation in your body. It's a great
way to cover up unwanted noise from your environment while
giving your body lasting emotional relief from noise-related,
or any type of, stress.
How Much Noise is Too Much?
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has established
70 dB as a safe average for a 24-hour day. Your hearing may
be damaged by any noise that reaches 85 dB or more, but even
a softer noise could harm your health if it is bothersome
to your nerves or prevents you from sleeping (a typical person
can't sleep with a noise at 45 dB or higher). To put
things into perspective, here's a list of some common
Quiet home: 20 dB
Normal talking: 40 dB
Ringing telephone: 60 dB
Check out the tips below if you want to make your
environment more quiet.
Air conditioner: 75 dB
Heavy traffic: 90 dB
Subway train, honking horns, jack hammers: About 100
Typical nightclub: 110 dB
Ears register pain: 120 dB
Loud music, jet take-off: About 120 dB
Those most at risk of noise-induced hearing loss are workers
exposed to loud noise for long periods of time, five or more
days a week. This could include factory workers, construction
workers, farmers, police officers, firefighters, military
personnel and musicians, among others.
However, stress from low levels of noise is a risk to most
everyone, especially those in urban settings. In the United
States, though, it's becoming increasingly difficult
to find areas NOT affected by noise pollution. Even rural
areas that were once relatively quiet are now affected by
aircraft, agriculture, traffic and more.
To get an idea of just how wide-reaching noise pollution
is, consider that the National Institutes of Health says that
some 65 million Americans are exposed to noise levels that
can get in the way of work and sleep, and 25 million people
are at risk of noise-related health problems.
Tips for Creating a Noise-Free (or Close
to It) Environment,
and Protecting Yourself From Noisy Ones
Wear earplugs in noisy places
Turn down the volume on radios, personal headsets and
Try muting your TV during the commercials, or leaving
it off all together and reading a book instead
Relieve Noise-Related Stress with
The Pure Relaxation CD: Guided Meditations for Body,
Mind & Spirit
is the #1 relaxation CD on the market today ...
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The Pure Relaxation CD will calm your mind, soothe
your emotions and create a state of deep relaxation
in your body. Using these guided meditations regularly
will help you to live in a more relaxed way. You will
notice when you are becoming tense and start to relax
You will be amazed with how, by regularly listening
to the CD, it has a powerful ability to help you relax
and deal more effectively with stress throughout the
day, every day.
"You are creating an oasis in a very noisy,
-- Pat Foth, Retired Pet Store Owner, MI
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Sound-treat your home by putting heavy curtains on windows,
rugs on the floors and sealing all air leaks
Consider adding acoustical tile to your ceilings and
Put on some light music to buffer outside noise that
you can't control
Use sound-blocking headphones to listen to music/TV without
the disturbance of outside noises, and without disturbing
those around you
Look for quieter home appliances
Take a drive in a rural area to escape city noise for
Certain Smells May Make You a Dangerous Driver (Really!)
Top Seven Signs That Someone is Lying to You
Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
Plus: Aircraft Noise can Impair Reading in Kids June 3, 2005
With Noise Pollution
Council on the Environment of New York City: Noise Pollution
to Quiet Society
Encarta: Noise Pollution