What is Noise pollution?
Noise pollution is a type of pollution that does not directly affect the environment but has adverse effects on the hearing abilities of the inhabitants of our ecosystem.
Hearing of an organism is directly linked to the nervous systems internally.
Hence noise pollution affects the mental health and disturbs the delicate balance of an individual in case of over-exposure to noise levels beyond a certain decibel.
There may have been many instances, especially when you’re living in a city, that you’ve been so annoyed with the noise around you, that you lose your composure. You grab your ears and just wait for the noise to stop.
That is the essence of noise pollution. It comprises of all the loud noises around you, caused by vehicular traffic, heavy machinery in factories and sometimes, the disturbance of trains and aeroplanes, if you live near an airport or railway station.
The blaring sounds from loudspeakers and high speakers are not to be left behind, especially when there are processions or big festivals taking place.
Let us ponder over a few examples for better understanding.
Whales are known to emit their call louder when they detect a submarine since a submarine uses SONAR and other sound oriented devices for communication and navigation.
The SONAR dampens the whale’s call, making it less effective, which in turn might lead to some members not hearing it and missing some vital signal, like a hunting call.
Causes of noise pollution
Let us first begin by trying to understand how noise is generated technically.
Noise basically is a mixture of all sounds around us. These sounds originate from various sources. Inside the waveform of a noise, we can find overlapping waveform indicating mixed and jumbled outputs rendering ‘noise’.
The outcomes may contain undesirable and irritating waveform called noise. Noise pollution is more prominent in urban areas than in rural areas.
This is because rural areas have only half the amount of vehicles, minimal amount of factories and other sources producing loud noises.
It is more discomforting and annoying in particular to senior citizens, who seek a calm and peaceful atmosphere in their days of retirement. In India, festivals are a crucial part of our culture and thus, are given utmost importance.
But the celebrations and proceedings involved with these festivities result in noise pollution on a wide scale.
This scenario especially gets worse when people disregard the fact about patients in hospitals, nursing mothers, pregnant women and ill patients who need relief from such blaring noises.
Similar is the case with wedding celebrations. Nowadays, almost everyone holds a wedding procession which involves the bride and groom, either walking or on horses or carriages, slowly proceeding towards the groom’s house.
Celebrations take place on a large scale involving huge loudspeakers and noise from trumpets and drum beats causing inconvenience to residents and other establishments, including schools, colleges, hospitals and other religious establishments like temples and churches.
Well known incidences of noise pollution occur during festivals, normal, everyday traffic on the road, etc.
Diwali causes noise as well as Air pollution, people celebrate Diwali for their joy, and indeed they burst crackers that create massive noise.
Traffic on the road is the primary reason for sound pollution in big cities. There are many other factors too that cause the deadly noise pollution.
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Effects of noise pollution
Our human ear can detect sounds in the frequencies between 20Hz to 20 KHz. But constant exposure to sound beyond certain intensity is harmful to the ears.
We already know that sound intensity is measured in Decibels, also denoted as dB. In a normal airport, a plane that is landing or leaving the run way creates a noise exceeding intensities of 120 dB.
There are chances of irreversible damage to the human ear when exposed to noises above 80 dB. Instances of noise have been recorded from the ancient times in the cities of Rome, on account of the dawn of industrialization.
Poorly planned cities and towns are another reason where residents have to become victims of noise pollution. If the city is near an industrial area, then the residential areas face heavy instances of noise pollution.
Though the human ear’s maximum capacity of tolerating noise cannot be exactly measured, it is believed that the intensity is about 80 dB.
Continuous exposure to sounds of intensities higher than this may lead to a myriad of health problems. It may lead to physical as well as psychological changes.
A person shows increased levels of stress and becomes prone to mental illnesses if he is prone to irregular levels of noise.
Every person’s tolerance is inbuilt differently and the ability of a person to tolerate noise provides him stability from within. Beyond that threshold level, the mind senses disturbance and gets irritated by the effects of noise.
This irritability is then transferred to the inner regions on the brain wherein complex reactions alter normal functioning of brain components.
When this process happens over long periods of time, the brain functioning itself gets altered and that’s when we say that an abnormality has occurred in the mental well being of a person.
The chances of a cardio vascular disease are also highly elevated. It is not just humans who are affected, but animals in the vicinity too face disturbance.
Dogs, with a higher sense of hearing, may get their ears damaged by exposure to higher levels of noise pollution.
Wildlife is adversely affected, as the loud man-made noises drown the mating calls, warning alarms and threat noises that animals use normally to communicate with one another.
For example in birds, the bird robin is observed to sing more likely at night, in a heavily noise polluted area since, in the day time, the noises are significantly louder.
Solutions for noise pollution
The threat of noise pollution is being realized and the governments are taking measures to reduce them.
In India too, certain rules and regulations have been set up regarding noise generation and emission. But the enforcement of these laws is not incorporated on strict terms and thus the defaulters escape scot-free.
It is good to know that there are many NGOs (non-government organizations) that have taken the initiative to reduce noise pollution and so far they’ve made tremendous progress, especially in the urban areas.
The rural areas, unfortunately, still face the wrath of noise pollution. It is up to us, the educated urban crowds, to control and prohibit the curse of noise pollution.
It’s also good to create awareness among the rural inhabitants regarding the ill effects of noise pollution.
Today, everyone has come to know the deadly effect of noise pollution. The government has taken some of the crucial steps to reduce the sound pollution.
The noise of Loud Speakers should be limited and should not cross beyond a certain decibel. An individual or group isn’t permitted to use loud speakers in the vicinity of schools, colleges, and hospitals.
Government has imposed strict restrictions and posed limitations on the use of loudspeakers during festivals. It has posted a big list do’s and don’ts and applied the rules at appropriate regions of high noise traffic.
The effects of noise pollution is not restricted to human beings alone, it has deadly impacts on lives of animals as well.
To control this type of pollution, people should create awareness on its impact on human health. Airports should be situated far away from residential areas.
Manufacturing industries such as steel and iron establishments should be situated far away from residential complexes.
It’s more of an individual effort to control noise pollution. We may not be able to totally stop noise pollution, but we can definitely take steps to reduce it by a great level.
The public should be made aware of its deadly hazards.