Noise pollution (or environmental noise) is displeasing human, animal or machine created sound that disrupts the activity or balance of human or animal life. The unwanted sound is called noise. This unwanted sound can damage physiological and psychological health. Noise pollution can cause annoyance and aggression, hypertension high stress levels, tinnitus, hearing loss, sleep disturbances and other harmful effects. Furthermore, stress and hypertension are the leading causes to health problems, whereas tinnitus can lead to forgetfulness, severe depression and at times panic attacks.
Causes of noise pollution
- Airports and cities: The sounds of airplanes taking off and landing can be a contributing factor. All the sounds of city, including factories, autos, traffic, people and more can result in higher stress levels.
- The Office: The need to converse space has brought on a virtual community of cubicles that do not block the sounds around us. Things like phones, paper copiers, clicking keyboards, drumming fingers, coughing, conversations and more can be grading on one’s nerves.
- Home: The peace of home is not like it once was. The need to have multiple media mediums has brought the stress to the home front.
- The huge sound produced from automobiles, industries and construction equipments.
- The loud sound produced from radio, TV, music player and other similar musical instruments.
- Natural disasters like earthquake and volcano eruption.
- Crowded area, domestic quarrels, political or religious programmes also could lead to noise pollution.
Effects of noise pollution
Among the various effects, the major effects of the noise pollution are as follows:
- Noise pollution affects our hearing capacity and may even lead to deafness.
- Noise pollution causes high blood pressure and makes people aggressive on exposure to loud noise for long time.
- Loud noise dulls our mind and may create mental disturbance.
- Loud noise causes disturbance in digestive system and make us lazy.
- Noisy environment creates difficulties in proper sleep which affects our health in different ways.
- Noise disturbs our concentration in work and study.
- Noise due to explosions may cause miscarriage and pregnancy disorders.
- Noise may even lead to stress and strain, heart attack and many other psychological disorders.
Methods to control noise pollution
Noise level is increasing day by day in our surrounding due to unmanaged urbanization, heavy traffic, increasing industrialization etc. which is hazardous to the environmental health. Though noise cannot be totally eliminated, its level can lowered by adopting some effective mechanisms. There are a variety of strategies for mitigating roadway noise including: use of noise barriers, limitation of vehicle speeds, alternation of roadway surface texture, limitation of heavy vehicles, use of traffic controls that smooth vehicles flow to reduce braking and acceleration and tire design. An important factor in applying these strategies is a computer model for roadway noise that is capable of addressing local topography, meteorology, traffic operations and hypothetical mitigation. Costs of building-in mitigation can be modest, provided these solutions are sought in the planning stage of a roadway project.
Some of the measures to control noise pollution are as follows:
- Use of silencers in the engines of automobiles which produce more noise.
- Industries and air ports are to be established far from settlement areas.
- Afforestation and expansion of green belts helps to absorb unwanted sound contributing to the control of noise pollution.
- Tree plantation on the road sites, ban on pressure horns etc. help to control noise pollution due to heavy traffic.
- Construction of walls to check noise, use of sound absorbing materials and use of equipments that produce less sound are effective measures to control noise pollution in construction sites, auditorium, cinema hall, industries etc.
- Use of ear plugs or ear muffs while working in a noisy environment help to minimize the effects of noise pollution.
- Loud speakers, radio, televisions etc. should not be operated with high volume.
- Declaration of horn restricted zones like hospitals, schools etc. also helps to control unwanted noise.
- Ban on the use of explosives and firecrackers.
- Strict legislative measures are to be formulated and implemented effectively.
- Public awareness is to be raised through different mass media.