Sound Pollution – Concept, causes and consequences

We explain what noise pollution is, what its causes and consequences are. Also, how to avoid it and some examples.

Noise pollution
Noise pollution is the presence of annoying, deafening or constant noise.

What is noise pollution?

Noise pollution, noise pollution or noise pollution is called the presence of annoying, deafening, or constant noises, as well as the simultaneous proliferation of excessive noise in a given area, thus negatively affecting the quality of life of humans and animals.

Although sound does not accumulate and last as other forms of pollution do, generating long-term damage, the presence of sound pollutants has a direct and immediate impact on the life around you.

Certain levels of noise are unavoidable in the contemporary way of life, product of industrial activities, means of transport or simply of the joint life of thousands of people.

However, when these levels reach considerable magnitudes or are so numerous that altogether they exceed what the ear can tolerate, they are considered a form of physical, emotional and psychological damage that requires action. That is why it is called noise pollution.

In fact, there are international organizations that warn about the gradual loss of human hearing capacity, and some reports from organizations such as the WHO consider 70 decibels (dB) as the tolerable noise limit, although the ideal for the human rest and communication is 55.

An estimated 80 million people are constantly exposed to environmental noise exceeding 65 dB, according to 2005 European Union studies.

Causes of noise pollution

Noise pollution
Many human activities are associated with noise, such as musical concerts.

Many contemporary human activities are associated with the generation of noise, as are the industrial extractions; large manufacturing machinery; small, medium and large scale transport vehicles; musical concerts; movie theaters; even the simultaneous presence of a large number of people in a tiny environment can be considered a source of noise pollution.

Nonetheless, few measures are taken in this regard, and especially the individuals who live in large cities are exposed to harmful levels of noise on a daily basis.

Consequences of noise pollution

Some possible consequences of constant exposure to high levels of noise pollution are:

  • Socioacusis. A slight damage to our auditory system that reveals the appearance of a constant beeping after having subjected it to high sound levels. This effect usually passes with the days, but the abuse of these conditions will lead to the diminished hearing capacity and eventually to deafness.
  • Communicative interference. At higher levels of noise pollution, the more difficult oral communication becomes, since our ears cannot discern some sounds from others, but the brain must filter between the amount of sounds registered, the one that interests it.
  • Physical effects Beyond hearing damage, exposure to large sources of noise pollution produces certain physiological effects, such as pupil dilation, rapid pulse, increased blood pressure and headaches, increased muscle tension and other symptoms of stress.
  • Psychological effects. Noise is highly damaging to mental and emotional health, as it can cause insomnia, fatigue, stress, depression, anxiety, irritability, isolation, and poor concentration, as well as verbal communication and learning disabilities in children.

How to avoid noise pollution?

Noise pollution
The use of earplugs is a growing practice in various regions of the world.

Noise was not considered an environmental pollutant until recently, despite the presence of large industrial developments in various regions of the world. Since the beginning of the millennium (year 2000), numerous organizations and States have agreed to create legislation on noise, which has led to the appearance of regulations and legal codes to protect people from excessive noise.

However, many of the measures against noise remain specific. In environments with a high presence of noise, companies must provide their employees with hearing protection equipment and must use insulating materials to prevent sound waves from spreading outside the premises, as well as isolate industrial operations to move them away from the places where people live. .

Secondly, the use of earplugs and acoustic barriers in homes it is a growing practice in various regions of the world.

Examples of noise pollution

Some examples of noise or noise pollution are:

  • Take-off of airplanes in airports, and presence of other combustion vehicles such as motorcycles without a filter in the exhaust.
  • Concerts and other outdoor events with loud speakers.
  • Industrial operations or street repair (hydropneumatic drills) in the middle of the city.
  • Wind installations in the fields (they usually produce noise when the blades rotate).