Our noise problem is getting worse in a world that is no doubt getting busier. Noise pollution is on track to become the next big public health problem. Harmful noise levels can hurt our hearing, make us more stressed, and put our health and well-being at risk in many other ways. As the world gets louder, it’s getting harder and harder to avoid dangerous noise levels.
Sounds of the city
Cities are loud and a significant source of noise pollution. As the number of people living in cities continues to grow, harmful noise further pushes the limits of urban noise. There’s no way around it.
It is thought that by the end of the 21st century, four out of every five people will live in a city. With this kind of growth, places that used to be suburban and rural are likely to see a significant change in the number of people living there and the number of people living there.
How noise can be damaging
Harmful noise levels may seem minor but can cause short-term and long-term health problems. Noise is measured in decibels, and 85 decibels is thought to be the point at which sound can damage our hearing permanently.
As the sound gets louder, it gets more and more dangerous. After 8 hours, a person’s hearing will be damaged by 85 decibels of noise, which is about what city traffic sounds like. Even 15 minutes of being at a construction site where the noise level is around 100 decibels can cause permanent hearing damage.
Harmful noise can kill the fragile hair cells in our inner ear that pick up sound waves and send them to our auditory nerve. Hearing loss that can’t be fixed happens when too many hair cells die. Noise that isn’t taken care of also makes it harder to sleep, leading to stress. Our immune system gets weaker when we’re under more stress, which makes us more likely to get heart disease, depression, and other health problems.
What are governments doing?
Some laws passed by the government to limit noise levels have worked, but there is still a long way to go to solve this growing problem. The Noise Pollution and Abatement Act of 1972 was the law that did the most to address noise pollution in the United States. This act for more noise control made it possible for the public to learn more about harmful noise levels and take steps to stop them, such as setting new standards for noise emissions.
Since that important law, the local government has had to enforce and make new rules, with the help of grassroots citizen action that keeps people thinking about new ways to control noise.
How to reduce noise pollution in the home
Rugs and carpets can be a simple but effective way to deal with and lower noise pollution because they can absorb the sound of hard floors. Carpets can cut down on the sound of someone walking by up to 34 decibels, while laminate or wood floors can only cut down on the sound by up to 6 decibels.
You can reduce noise pollution on your property by putting furniture in the right places. For example, putting large bookshelves or drawers along walls that connect your home to your neighbor’s home can help cut down on noise from both homes because it absorbs the sound.
Planting trees and bushes around your home can help cut down on noise. This is especially helpful if you live in a city near busy roads. Also, planting trees can help improve the air quality around them.
Noise comes from vibrations and sound waves, which things like fences can stop as they move through the air. It may come as a surprise, but fences can be a handy way to block out noises you don’t like. This is because they act as a barrier, which helps to cut down on noise.
As we all try to figure out how to live in a world that is getting louder, regular hearing exams are the best way to protect your hearing. Talk to us today to arrange a consultation!