has created, such as cars, airplanes, and many other inventions, the world continues to get louder and louder. This increase in global volume is causing a number of problems for both our own health and for the environment. However, there are a number of things that we can do to help combat the growing problem of noise pollution.
How noise pollution hurts our health
While some sound frequencies are very healing to the body, many other sound frequencies can cause damage to the body in one form or another, especially at high volumes.
It has been found that noise pollution can negatively impact our own health and wellbeing. This includes impacts on our sleep, concentration, communication, and recreation. Loud noises have been shown to impair hearing, disrupt sleep, cause negative impacts on cardiovascular health, impair our ability to speak with others, and negatively impact mental health.
Researchers now believe that noise can produce stress signals in the body, whether asleep or awake, and this can lead to a number of health issues, such as an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, and a hampering of the immune system[sc:1].
How noise pollution hurts animals and plants
It is not just humans that are negatively impacted by noise pollution, but also animals and plants that are being harmed by increased noise levels.
Animals experience stress at excessive noise levels. This is because animals depend so much on their sense of hearing in order to survive. These negative impacts affect both domestic animals and wildlife, with pets potentially becoming more aggressive in a noisy environment, and wildlife suffering from hearing loss, an increased vulnerability to predation, or a hampered ability to hunt.
Other animals may not be able to communicate effectively to find mates, suffer from ineffective echo-location, or experience a hampered ability to migrate. Many animals have even increased their call volumes in an effort to communicate with one another within a louder environment.
Plants and trees can be dramatically impacted by noise pollution when their animal pollinators or seed dispersers are forced to move to a quieter location, or the animals are unable to reproduce due to disruption in communication, thereby reducing their total populations. If the wildlife that live a particular ecosystem are being negatively impacted by noise, then chances are that the plants there will also be negatively impacted. These disruptions have the potential to dramatically alter the composition of an entire ecosystem[sc:2].
5 ways to reduce noise pollution
- Call upon your local government authorities to regulate noise. Solutions to noise pollution in communities include the installation of low-noise road surfaces, maintaining existing roads, building low-noise train tracks, railway and train depots, the installation of noise screens adjacent to highways and other noisy areas, creating ‘No-Noise’ Zones where honking and industrial noises are not permitted, the use of building insulation, reducing and enforcing speed limits, and banning truck traffic in particular areas.
- Plant trees or shrubs. By planting trees or shrubs close together near the source of undesirable noise, you can reduce noise by up to 10 decibels (which translates to a 50% reduction in noise)[sc:3]. Taller plants are the most effective at blocking noise, and evergreen plants provide noise-reduction benefits throughout the entire year.
- Install double-paned windows and weather stripping in your home. By installing these features in your home, you will reduce the noise that comes inside, as well as save energy and money on your utility bills.
- Turn off electronic devices. Constant sounds being emitted from our televisions, radios, and other electronics can create unnecessary (and potentially distracting) background noise in our home. A quiet home is not only more peaceful to live in, but it also is better for cognitive growth and for the development of language skills of children, and can lead to less anxiety in children when compared to a home that is high in noise.
- Show your soft side when decorating your home. Soft furnings and textiles such as rugs, carpets, and wall hangings absorb sound much more effectively than hard and non-porous surfaces.