In everyday life we are surrounded by sounds and noises that vary by type and strength. Sound is defined as the effect that a wave has on a human or animal ear. The vibrations cause a nervous disturbance to the ear drum which is called sound. In order to hear a sound two thing are required: a vibrating object that transmit sound waves and a receiver, the ear for absorbing this energy and transforming it into sounds (Kappuswamy and Hariharan).
Noise, on the other hand, is considered to be undesired sound without pleasant musical quality. Thus, sound and noise can be considered as the same thing, but taking into account the acoustic environment, one should distinguish these two terms. Noise is only when the effect of the sounds on the ear is unpleasant and unwanted (Singh and Davar).
Noise can be defined also as any unwanted sound that interferes with speech and hearing and has high intensity which could cause hearing damages. With other words, these are annoying sounds (EPA). The definition of noise as undesired sound means that it has a negative effect on the human being and the surrounding world – land, structures and domestic animals, as well as natural wildlife and ecological systems.
Causes and effects of noise pollution
As mentioned above noise is unwanted and unpleasant sound. The standard unit for sound measurement is Decibel – logarithmic unit that indicates the ratio of a physical quantity (usually power or intensity) relative to a specified or implied reference level (IEEE, 2000). Normally 80 db is the threshold at which sound becomes physically painful. After this point it can be termed as noise. People, animals, plants and even structures like buildings and bridges bear the effect of the ever increasing noise pollution in the surrounding world. Whether men or machine-created, noise causes disorder in the activities and balance in life. Traffic is the largest noise polluter in the world; however there are so many others that add to it, making the Earth a victim of its disruptive effects. The effects of noise pollution have multiple aspects and are interrelated. Some of the causes and effects of the noise pollution are described in the following lines.
The causes of the noise pollution
- In the cities, the traffic is the main source of noise pollution. The ever-increasing number of vehicles on the road adds significantly to the level of pollution.
- Military airplanes flying low over national parks, wastelands and other areas that were previously unaffected, causing immense rise in noise pollution levels.
- Railway stations with a lot of noise produced by locomotive engines, whistles and horns, switching and maneuvering operation in the rail yards. These are major noise makers.
- In order to meet the basic condition for living, construction of buildings and streets creates noise. Heavy machinery, trucks and construction equipment are big contributor to noise pollution at the construction sites.
- Industrial machinery and equipment are not a prime reason but they add a lot to the already harmful condition of noise pollution.
- Air conditioners, boilers, fans and plumbing are generators of noise in the building.
- Vacuum cleaners, kitchen appliances, mixers and other household equipment are not such an issue as noisemakers but their effect is not to be ignored.
The effects of noise pollution
- Temporary or permanent deafness is the most common effect. People who work at place with high level of noise have impaired hearing.
- Work efficiency decreases with noise increase and vice verse.
- High level of noise has negative influence on working rhythm. It affects concentration, causes distraction and thus disrupts the working environment.
- Fatigue – in noisy environment workers put more time and efforts in completing certain task.
- Noise can be a stress activator as well.
- High blood pressure, mental illness can be the consequence of an environment with very high levels of noise.
- Poor crops quality. Vegetation is indirectly affected by noise pollution. Plants need quiet environment to grow.
- Animals’ nervous system is susceptible to noise as well. It can be harmed by the noise.
- Buildings and bridges are weakened by the infrasonic/ultrasonic waves of noise (Jeva, R).
Control of noise pollution
Most of one’s daily activities generate noise. Due to its harmful impact on people and environment must be controlled. The techniques for noise management depend upon the required levels. They can be generally classified as:
- Control at source – lowering the noise from domestic sectors, maintenance of automobiles, control over vibrations, low voice speaking, ban on using high speakers, selection of machinery, maintenance of machines etc.
- Control in the transmission path – installation of barriers, design of buildings.
- Use of protective equipment – job rotation, exposure reduction and hearing protection (Rao, P).
Since the daily activities generate noise, everyone contributes to noise pollution. Often ignored, noise pollution has a harmful impact on the human being, causing annoyance, distraction and loss of hearing. Statutory regulations are set up to control and reduce the undesired and unpleasant sounds.
However, it is advisable that each and every one of us should take suitable noise pollution control measures because otherwise it would have the effect of slow poisoning.
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Works cited Agarwal, S. “Noise pollution”, 2009 EPA, “Noise Control Act”. 1972 IEEE “Standard 100 Dictionary of IEEE Standards Terms”, Seventh Edition, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering, New York, 2000; page 288 Jeva, R, “Noise Impact Assessment - an approach, Energy Environment Monitor”, Vol.: 12, September 96. Kappuswamy and Hariharan, 1978 Rao, P.R., “Noise Pollution and Control”, Encyclopedia of Environmental Pollution and Control, Vol.-2, Environmedia Publications, India, 1995 edition. Singh, N. and Davar, S. “Noise Pollution- Sources, Effects and Control”, 2004,