The Health Effects of Noise Pollution
Guest blog post by Lucas Bergman.
Living in an urban environment requires us to get used to the sounds in our surroundings. After a certain period, we even stop noticing the sound of the traffic outside our windows or the music from a nightclub in our neighbourhood. However, when those sounds become overwhelming and start disrupting your sleep or everyday habits, they are no longer just background noise, but a much more serious issue – noise pollution.
Understanding noise pollution
Noise pollution is a serious environmental issue that can have negative effects on both your health and the wildlife in your environment. Although it’s difficult for us to see noise as an environmental pollutant, this is actually one of the biggest threats to public health. Noise becomes a pollutant when it interferes with your ability to perform everyday tasks or get quality sleep. It’s a problem that can cause a series of physical and mental health problems, both temporary and permanent. Thus, it’s of the utmost importance that we gain a deeper understanding of this issue so as to be able to minimise its detrimental effects.
Common sources of noise pollution
If you’re living in an urban environment, it’s likely that you’re surrounded by multiple sources of noise pollution. Of course, these sources can be present in less urban areas, as well, but to a lesser extent.
Industrialisation is one of the causes of noise pollution. Typically, industries that use heavy machinery produce a lot of noise which can affect both their workers and the surrounding areas. The construction industry, in particular, is a major noise pollutant that is a part of everyday life. Other causes of noise pollution include transportation, poor urban planning, social events and even household chores and equipment that produce a lot of noise.
Reducing noise pollution is of the utmost importance because it affects the entire society and the environment. Therefore, appropriate environmental noise control measures should be implemented to mitigate and even eliminate the most common causes of noise pollution. Comprehensive acoustic testing can reveal the exact source of noise pollution in a particular area. Afterwards, a series of solutions can be introduced to tackle this issue successfully. Otherwise, noise pollution can cause some of the following health problems.
The health effects of noise pollution
Exposure to excessive noise can cause a range of temporary and permanent health problems. If you believe that you’re experiencing a noise-induced health issue, it’s essential that you seek help because any problem may become more serious and even cause other health issues.
Individuals who are exposed to noise pollution on a regular basis can experience different hearing issues. Every sound above 80dB may damage your hearing while noise above 100dB may cause permanent hearing loss. Noise pollution can also cause tinnitus, a form of hearing damage often described as a ringing, booming or hissing sound or sensation in your ears. A hearing impairment may gradually worsen if left untreated. Typically, workers who are exposed to noise pollution on a daily basis are obligated to wear personal protective equipment.
Noise pollution can also interfere with your sleeping patterns and cycle. Consequently, sleep deprivation can cause other issues, including irritation, extreme fatigue, stress, etc. Furthermore, not only does the lack of quality sleep affect your health, but it can also hinder your job performance, which becomes dangerous if you’re working in the construction industry or have some other job that can affect your and your co-workers’ safety.
Exposure to noise pollution can also increase your risk of experiencing cardiovascular health issues. You may develop high blood pressure, which can further increase your chances of suffering from a heart attack. Since noise pollution can also make you feel stressed, you may also experience stress-induced heart problems.
Mental health issues
Constant exposure to noise pollution and the lack of sleep can affect your mental health, as well. You may start feeling stressed, anxious and even depressed. Noise pollution can also cause aggression and other behavioural issues, interfering with your everyday life. Ongoing mental health problems may also cause physical health issues since the body and mind are intricately connected.
Common effects on pregnancy
Noise pollution can also affect pregnant women and unborn children. Aside from causing stress, tiredness and high blood pressure in pregnant women, noise pollution can affect the development of unborn children, causing hearing issues and other health problems. In particular, low-frequency noise is more harmful to unborn children.
Considering the detrimental effects that noise can have on our health, it’s essential that we understand this issue better and implement all the necessary measures to reduce and eliminate noise pollution.