Noise Pollution

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Noise Pollution

Noise pollution is unwanted sound which creates a disturbance and can lower the quality of life to humans and wildlife. This sound can interfere with the standards of living in a given location and has been suggested to interfere with our mental health. We don’t really think about noise pollution because it exists all around us and has been around for a long time.

Consider these noise pollution facts:

  • A survey back in 1975 found that nearly 1/3 of respondents who wanted to move to a different area wanted to do so because of noise.
  • Nearly half of the US population lives in areas where surrounding noise exceeds recommended levels
  • Urban traffic and Aircraft are by far the biggest sources of noise pollution
  • Approximately 15 million American workers are exposed to noise levels hazardous to their hearing.
  • More Pollution Facts¬†and their sources.
  • These are some of the general causes of noise pollution:

    • City infrastructure

    When loud industrial factories are placed near homes, this creates a lot of disturbing noise for those that are trying to live their lives nearby. Likewise, social events such as concert halls, bars, and parties all may contribute unwanted noise to a given area. Inevitably, medium to large cities will create a lot of noise for this reason.

    • Urban Vehicles and Aircraft
    noise pollution
    Noise pollution caused by cars. Image by thienzieyung

    Transportation causes a lot of noise pollution because cars, trains, buses, airplanes, and just about every form of transport generates noise in order to function. Transport vehicles are present in all corners of the world and add to the noise which we hear every day.

    • Household appliances

    From a ticking clock to a rumbling refrigerator, all sorts of sounds are heard in our own homes which can cause irritation to those that live inside. Even though these appliances are not as loud as previous listed causes, they still add up.

    Why is noise pollution bad?

    Noise pollution has been suggested to impact our health both mentally and physically. Unwanted sounds can generate hearing loss, sleeping problems, and communication problems across a household. Furthermore, nearby wildlife will commonly be disturbed by too much noise and we see a loss of wildlife habitat partially for this reason. Habitat fragmentation due to noise pollution can have a substantial effect on loss of species diversity.

    Ways we can combat noise pollution:

  • Take measures to reduce the noise at an individual level
  • One way to reduce noise pollution is not actually to reduce it but to reduce our exposure to it on an individual level. This can be anything from having better sound insulation in our homes or vehicles to wearing earplugs. We can also simply make an effort to consider noise before moving to a new area.

  • Don’t build roads near national parks and forest preserves
  • So as to not disturb wildlife, we can exercise better strategy in where we place roads. It has been shown through research that putting a road through a nature preserve can have very detrimental effects to wildlife and will prevent their communication and movement from one area to another, disrupting normal patterns of behavior. This can have a negative effect on wildlife conservation efforts.


    The Noise Effects Handbook, Office of Noise Abatement and Control, US EPA, 1981