Tuesday March 26, 2019

Noise is Contaminating the Natural Sounds: Causes and Effects of Noise Pollution

Nowadays, surroundings have become deafening, we cannot hear the natural sounds around us. We need to listen to the nature to understand it and assimilate with it, for the optimum utilization of our brain faculties, so as to get a deep inside experience.

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Noise pollution
Noise Pollution. Illustration by Mehr Arora of Same Condition.com

– by Dr. Bharti Raizada

Sound is the sensation perceived by the sense of hearing, whereas noise is a loud, unwanted, unpleasant, and harsh sound. The natural sounds such as Chirping of birds, Gurgling and splash of water, Movement of trees/ leaves, Bee buzz are ear-friendly as well as eco-friendly sounds.

Noises Everywhere

In our daily life, too much noise pollution is going all around us. Almost every equipment and machine at homes such as refrigerator, microwave, mixers, vacuum cleaners, air conditioners, exhaust fans, exercising machines etc. creates continuous noise when operated.

When we go outside our homes, there are noises which constantly keep banging our eardrum. For example, traffic noises, sirens, and music. Whether it may be a shopping mall, a restaurant or a get-together noise in the form of music is forced on us. Even in the hospitals, televisions are always on with high volume most of the times. We may think that when we are sleeping we are not exposed to noise. However, this is not true. The brain is still getting exposure. We end up hearing noises all day and night, whether we choose it or not.

Causes of the Noise Pollution

Many sounds which are disturbing and harmful to the ears fall in the categories of noise pollution. Some glaring examples of noise are ones created by Airplanes, Trains, Traffic on road and Jackhammers and machinery (refrigerator, washing machines, mixers, grinders, hair dryer, water heaters, phones, and computers).

If our surroundings are deafening, we cannot hear the natural sounds which are soothing to the ears. We need to listen to the nature to understand it and assimilate with it for the optimum utilization our brain faculties, so as to get a deep inside experience which will help us to introspect, to think, and to contemplate.

There are some people who get used to noises and it does not bother them. While some are very sensitive to it and even develop misophonia (a dislike or hatred of some sounds).

Noise pollution
Noise Pollution. Illustration by Mehr Arora of Same Condition.com

Hearing abilities of many animals and insects rely on the waves produced by natural sounds, for example, Elephants communicate with each other by infrasounds, Bats use ultrasound to find insects and to avoid hitting an object, Whales find their babies by sending clicking sounds and then listening to bounce back echo. Excessive and continuous noise, created by modern, developed human, is affecting animals, water creatures, and birds also.

Effects of Noise Pollution 

Noise has many effects on our body, mind, behavior, and mood. It can affect hearing and even lead to deafness. It Increases risk of hypertension and stroke. It annoys and upsets people and leads to release of stress hormones and sleep disturbances. There are effects on children also in terms of learning and cognition.

How can we protect ourselves from noise pollution?

It is of utmost importance to control noise to prevent long-lasting damages. If we do not want to see something, we can choose not to go there, however, it is not that easy in case of noise. The initial step is to accept that noise is a pollutant then decrease its production at the source, and increase the distance between a source and yourself.

  • Use decibel meter app –it measures noise and then action can be taken to move away from it or decrease it.
  • Use noise canceling headphones.
  • Use quiet pavement which muffles traffic noise.
  • Use quiet machinery.
  • Install insulated walls in the home and workplace to muffle or cut off noises from other rooms.

The government should set noise level standards, make noise laws, and strictly enforce those.

Take a step to reduce noise pollution

One has to be careful and try to decrease noise at personal level e.g. do not make loud noises when walking, decrease the volume of TV and music so that it is not annoying or uncomfortable for others. Be sensitive to needs of the people who are sensitive to noises. Insist on getting your quiet time back and let others enjoy their noise-free life.

Dr. Raizada is an Anesthesiologist in Chicago and CEO of Same Condition (a platform that connects people with Same Condition). 

 

Next Story

According to UN, 1 Billion People Risk Hearing Loss from Loud Music

That study, she says, focused on the listening habits of young people and the volume of sound to which they were generally exposed.

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Loud Music, Hearing Loss
U.N. agencies warn listening to loud music is unsafe and can cause permanent damage to hearing. VOA

U.N. agencies warn that more than 1 billion people ages 12 to 35 risk losing their hearing from listening to loud music on their audio devices. The World Health Organization, and the International Telecommunication Union, are launching new international standards to make smartphones and other devices safer for listening.

Listening to music is one of life’s greatest pleasures. U.N. health experts say they do not want to deprive younger people of the enjoyable experience of listening to music regularly on their headphones. But they warn listening to loud music is unsafe and can cause permanent damage to hearing.

The World Health Organization says it has no clear evidence that 1.1 billion people are at risk of developing hearing problems. However, WHO technical officer for the prevention of deafness and hearing loss Shelly Chadha said the figure is based on a study conducted four years ago.

Hearing Loss
The World Health Organization says it has no clear evidence that 1.1 billion people are at risk of developing hearing problems. Pixabay

That study, she says, focused on the listening habits of young people and the volume of sound to which they were generally exposed. She said this information has been valuable in working on solutions for preventing hearing loss.

“So, our effort through this standard is really to empower the user to make the right listening choice and decision, either to practice safe listening or to take the risk of developing hearing loss and tinnitus down the line.

The main recommendations for safe listening include having software on personal audio devices that measures how long and how loudly a user has been listening to music. They also call for automatic volume reduction systems on smartphones and other devices, as well as parental volume control.

The U.N. agencies say they hope governments and manufacturers will adopt the suggested standards, as disabling hearing loss is set to increase significantly in the coming years.

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The WHO and ITU report 466 million people suffer from the disability, most in low- and middle-income countries. It estimates the number will rise to more than 900 million people by 2050. The agencies say half of all cases of hearing loss can be prevented through public health measures. (VOA)