Noise pollution in cities, an underestimated danger: causes and solutions

Noise pollution in cities can have serious health impacts. Learn about the causes of noise pollution and how to reduce it.
noise pollution

Do you live in a heavily populated area of a city? Are you tired of hearing loud noises outside of your windows? Noise pollution has slowly emerged as a very hazardous environmental threat to everyone’s health. 

As per reports, noise pollution is the cause of around 50,000 cases of ischaemic heart disease per year. This results in more than 10,000 deaths per year. It is, therefore, important to put an end to the rising Noise Pollution cases. Keep reading this article to know the causes and solutions to noise pollution.

What is noise pollution?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), any sound that is above the 65 decibels (dB) mark is considered noise pollution. Sounds that go beyond the 75 decibels (dB) mark are generally unwanted noises that can cause serious harm to the health of individuals.

WHO, therefore, prescribes that sound levels should be below the 65 decibels (dB) mark. Noise pollution is, thus, considered an invisible threat to human existence

Causes of noise pollution

Noises can be created from multiple sources. From heavy traffic to hammering in construction sites, from airplanes in the sky to vessels in the ocean, from small clubs to big industries, almost everything around you can create it. However, listed below are some of the major causes of noise pollution in cities.

1. Noises from vehicles

Traffic accounts for the highest share of noise pollution in cities. Car horns can range anywhere between 80 decibels to 110 decibels. So, when hundreds of vehicles honk at the same time when they are stuck in traffic, they are bound to make a huge amount of noise pollution.

2. Noise due to air traffic 

Airplanes can produce around 140 decibels during takeoff and landing. And, since sound can move for a large distance, airplane noises can create disturbance in a large area. So, even if you are not living near an airport, you might still be affected by the noise pollution caused by air traffic.

3. Noise from construction sites

Most heavy construction works cause anywhere between 85 to 120 decibels. This amount of noise can cause serious harm anywhere. And since in cities, heavy construction works are very common, noise pollution caused by them is a serious issue. 

4. Noise from bar, restaurants, night clubs, and concerts 

Have you ever gone to a nightclub or a concert? If you have, then you must know that nightclubs make an ample amount of noise. As per reports, the speakers in nightclubs can create around 95 decibels of noise.

Also, in music concerts, the noise level can go up to 110 decibels. Thus, considering the huge amount of bars, restaurants, nightclubs, and concerts that any city hosts, they are a major contributor to this problem.

5. Noise from industries 

How can we forget Industries when we talk about the causes of noise pollution? When we talk about industries, we can think of machinery, vehicles, and construction works. All these things, in an industrial setup, can cause this problem.

So, for an industry, you can combine the sounds made by truck horns, drills, mills, punch presses, and saws which are bound to generate an abundant amount of noise pollution. 

6. Bad city design 

The main cause of this issue in a city is the city design itself. If roads were created keeping in mind the estimated number of cars a city will have in the future, then traffic noises could have been stopped.

Similarly, if industries weren’t allowed to function near cities and if construction sites were forced to use white noise machines, then the noise pollution from industries and construction sites could have been tackled. Thus, city designs are very important when it comes to curbing it.

Solutions to noise pollution in cities

Since the city design cannot be changed after the city is constructed, innovative methods have to be implemented to keep it under control. However, the effort to curb noise pollution needs to come at the individual, domestic and international levels. Here are some solutions that could be implemented to tackle noise pollution. 

1. International intervention

Since International organizations like WHO have the necessary funds to work on curbing noise pollution, they can raise awareness in cities against it.  They can carry out grassroots campaigns with the help of their volunteers to educate people about this pollution. International organizations can also pressurize local governments to implement policies against noise pollution.

2. Domestic efforts 

Now, at the domestic level, the power lies in the hands of governments to carry out anti-noise pollution measures. The governments can carry out policies that coerce industries and construction sites to use noise-absorbing machines.

The government can also restrict the operation of airplanes around cities, and implement policies like the odd-even rule for tackling traffic. So, you can say that the government is the ultimate authority when it comes to carrying out measures to reduce it.

3. People reducing domestic noise

Lastly, no international and domestic measures will work if the people who are living in cities don’t fulfill their duty to keep their city free from unpleasant sounds. People can reduce the noises they make daily like noise from car horns, home appliances, etc. They can plant trees since trees are excellent noise absorbents. People can also create healthy sounds like singing, to reduce the effects of it around them. 

The effects of noise pollution on human health

The unpleasant sounds have become an increasingly major problem in our modern world. In recent years, urban sprawl and technological advancements have led to a drastic increase in noise levels all around the globe. From construction sites to traffic, from loud music and shouting crowds to factory machinery, all of these sources contribute to daily noise exposure. 

But what kind of effects does it have on our future? Studies suggest that not only can it negatively impact our physical health, but also our mental well-being. Prolonged exposure to loud noises has been linked to a higher risk for cardiovascular disease, hearing loss, and sleep disturbances

Constant sound in the environment can raise levels of stress hormones and lead to high blood pressure, headaches, and fatigue. In children, noise can cause learning problems and impair their cognitive development

Beyond just physical health issues, noise pollution has also been linked to mental health concerns. Studies have found that prolonged exposure to loud noises can disrupt the moods of people who are already suffering from depression and anxiety. Additionally, it can lead to feelings of restlessness, agitation, and annoyance that can prevent people from being able to focus. 

The implications of this issue go far beyond individual health concerns. Pollution in the form of sound has a ripple effect on society as a whole because it presents an obstacle for communication and interaction between people. It can hinder productivity and make it harder to concentrate on tasks. Additionally, noise pollution has the potential to disrupt wildlife populations and alter eco-systems due to its effect on behavior patterns of species. 

Read also: Who is the Sustainability Manager, a new figure for the green transition: tasks, skills and salary

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