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Noise pollution: Physical effects of noise pollution and governmental restrictions on it Essay


Noise pollution:
Physical effects of noise pollution and governmental restrictions on it


Physical effects of noise pollution and governmental restrictions on it. “Pollution being the most dangerous problem
Likes cancer in which death is sure but slow.”
Deepak Miglani.

Who would think that moving to the one of the nicest areas of central Prague could make your life a waking and a sleeping nightmare? Concerts, combined with the sounds of rock drills, chain saws, helicopters, cars and horses, tourists and loud music could drive everyone crazy. Could loud noise lead not only to mental, but also physical, health problems? Does the government do anything to protect citizens? To answer this question, I decided to go deeper into this problem and describe it in my research paper.

Noise, a prototypical environmental stressor, has clear health effects in causing hearing problems, ringing in the ears, sleep disturbance and poor work performance. But physical health effects are less evident and much more dangerous. (Health Hearing, 2010) Disastrously, these undesirable sounds can seriously damage one’s health in a number of ways including hard illnesses, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, breathing difficulties, deafness, ulcers needless, neurosensory and motor impairment. (Agarwal, 2009) Many governments are now trying to control noise through passing noise pollution laws and regulations.

For example, to protect citizens from motorcycle noise, Canadian government adopt special noise regulation according to which “anyone with a two-wheeler that emits more than 92 dB while idling and 96 dB while running can get a $250 fine.” (Health Hearing, 2010) But let’s look at the noise pollution problem in more detail.

According to The Oxford English Dictionary (1989), noise is derived from the Latin word “nausea” meaning unwanted sound or sound that is loud, unpleasant or unexpected. Noise pollution refers to sounds in the environment that are produced by human activities and which disturbs the human being and cause an adverse effect on mental and psychological wellbeing. Decibel is the NOISE POLLUTION PAGE 3 standard unit for measurement of sound. (Pollution articles, 2009) Usually 80 db is the level at which sound becomes physically painful. (Health Hearing, 2010)

In order to better understand noise pollution, it is first important to understand where it comes from. Sources of noise are almost everywhere around us. Basically, there are two types of sources: stationary and mobile. Stationary sources could be festivals, elections, mining operations and household equipment. Mobile sources can be divided in 4 major categories, such as traffic noise, industrial noise, noise from constriction work and neighborhood noise. (Kakada, 2010) Traffic noise is one of the major problems, which is difficult to avoid. In fact, noise from cars, buses, and motorcycles impacts more people than any other environmental noise source. It is the main source of noise (73%), according to survey conducted several years ago. (Health Hearing, 2010) In addition, aircraft noise is really unbearable for human ears.

Supersonic jet planes produce noise which can shake buildings, crack plaster or break windows, so we can imagine what would be the effects of such noise on human body. Noise from railroads comes not only from locomotive engines, but also horns and whistles, switching and shunting operation in rail yards. (Agarwal, 2009) Industries also cause a lot of noise with their fans, motors and compressors. In result among industrial workers deafness is unfortunately a common consequence. (Boateng, C.A., & Amedofu, G.K., 2004) Another source of undesirable sound is from the construction of buildings, city streets and highways, which include pneumatic hammers, air compressors, bulldozers, loaders and dump trucks. (Barton, 1970) Sometimes even noises in your building can be very irritable.

If house is not well constructed and walls and ceilings improperly insulated, dwellers are often annoyed noise from plumbing, boilers, generators, air conditioners, fans and voices, footfalls and noisy activities from neighbors. In addition, noisemakers of the house could be household equipment, such as vacuum cleaners, mixers and some kitchen appliances. Though they do not cause too much problem, their effect cannot be neglected, but it is still have influence on health. (eSchooltoday, 2010)

Noise pollution can affect human health in the long run. What is health, anyway? According NOISE POLLUTION PAGE 4 to Robert Alex Barton, Health is “freedom from disease”. (Barton, 1970, p. 53) It will not become visible immediately, but could appear later. Research has proved the fact that human efficiency in working decreases with noise and increases with noise reduction. Due to lack of concentration and sleep disturbance, people need to spend more time to complete their task, which leads to tiredness, stress and problems with cognitive function. (Lifestyle Lounge, 2013) But much more dangerous are physical responses to noise exposure. Sometimes, being surrounded by too much noise, people can be victims of certain diseases like blood pressure, heart problems, temporary or permanent deafness. (Stansfeld & Matheson, 2003) Temporary or permanent hearing loss is the most immediate and acute effect of noise. When exposed to very loud and sudden noise, acute damage occurs to the eardrum and can damage some part of auditory system. (Macalester College, 2012) According to the U.S. Public Health Service in year 1991, 10 million from 21 million Americans have hearing impairments and the main reason for that is noise exposure (Suter, 1991).

In 2010 there were already 28 million Americans with hearing impairments from noise. (Kakada, 2010) Besides, our noisy environments are one of the main sources for cardiovascular problems, especially high blood pressure. (Suter, 1991) Researchers have revealed that high level of sounds can give a dramatic raise to the blood pressure. It also increases the heart beat rate. Dr. Samuel Rosen of CQC warns, “We now have millions with heart disease, high blood pressure… who need protection from additional stress of noise.” (Barton, 1970, p. 55) Researchers found that even during the night time noise can increase a person’s blood pressure without waking him up. The louder the noise, the higher the rise in blood pressure. (Song, 2008) Basically, this process of body’s reaction to noise can make a circle: noise rise the blood pressure, on its turn, blood pressure contribute to heart disease, and that is a cause of high blood pressure. (Barton, 1970) It has been said, “You may forgive noise, but your arteries never will” (Agarwal, 2009, p. 104). Investigators discovered that noise can cause complex hormonal changes such as increase of adrenal hormones and decrease of ovarian hormones, which can actually influence fertility, growth and other essential NOISE POLLUTION PAGE 5 functions of body.

When the noise is too loud, the defense reaction turns to be harmful, and can lead to bleeding uncles in stomach and intestines, shrink of lymph tissues and enlargement of glands. (Barton, 1970) Another health issue caused by noise pollution is problems with cognitive function. A person, constantly surrounded by some loud noise, can lose his ability to read, solve, understand and learn. In addition, this person can suffer from short term memory loss and poor productivity, together with high level of errors. (Stansfeld & Matheson, 2003) Another effect of noise is Fatigue, caused by lack of concentration and higher amount of time people spending to complete their task. (Lifestyle Lounge, 2013)

To reduce level of noise, governments are creating noise pollution laws, regulations or ordinance. (Health Hearing, 2010) According to Kinetics Noise Control, noise ordinance is a special laws developed by state governments to limit noise level at different arias and different time of the days. During the daytime, the maximum available noise level is higher than during the night time. Some small cites still don’t have noise ordinance, but in a big cities this already becomes an “important part of the community’s health.” (Kinetics Noise Control, 2013) The question, which I will now is how to recognize noise disturbance? According to my own research, many people don’t complain about noise because they are not sure what is the level of noise which you have a right to contact a law enforcement agency. Gainesville Police Department defines noise ordinance as follows: 1. Disturbs a reasonable person of normal sensitivities

2. Exceeds the sound level limit set forth in the ordinance, as measured by a sound level meter 3. Is plainly audible, which is defined as noise that can be heard a minimum of 200 feet from the property line of the source of the noise – This type of noise includes amplified music, musical instruments, televisions, radios and non-amplified human voices (“yelling, shouting, whistling, hooting or generally creating a racket”) ( Gainesville Police Department, 2013) The most common urban noise disturbance nowadays are loud parties, barking dogs, construction works, domestic power tools, apartments’ noise and loud car stereos. (Gainesville Police Department, 2013) If you want to report noise disturbance, you NOISE POLLUTION PAGE 6 should call communication center and provide them with information about location of the source of the noise disturbance or an address, description of type of the noise and how long it has been going on.

You may stay anonymous, but your name, address and phone number will be really helpful for successful enforcement based on disturbing reasonable person of normal sensibilities. (Gainesville Police Department, 2013) In case if noise ordinance is violated, you can also report it to the police or to law enforcement agency. After that, police officer will visit and record noise level at the place of the complaint and, according to result, the agency may force owner to take corrective actions or to pay fines. (Kinetics Noise Control, 2013) According to the Florida legal system, if an officer found that there is noise disturbance and if it is the first incident, the person who is responsible for it will receive warning remains in effect for 365 days,. If there is more noise during this 365 days, the violator is issued a Civil Citation, which will be recorded at the Police Department. In this case the violator will have to pay a $250 fine. If there is another noise complaint, he will be punished by $500 and if it happens again, he will receive Civil Citation with a mandatory court appearance and fine up to $500.

(Gainesville Police Department, 2013) In Hong Kong rules are stricter. For neighborhood noise you can get maximum $10,000 penalty; noise from construction sites, industrial type of noise and noise from products could lead you to $100,000 fine on first conviction, $200,000 penalty on second conviction, plus $20,000 a day; noise from intruder alarm system installed in any vehicle will cost you maximum $10,000 and the same amount for an intruder alarm system installed in any premises, plus possible imprisonment for three months. (Environmental Protection Environment, 2013) In New York City fines started from $70 for such noise sources as radio, noise from animals, etc and it goes up to $16,000 for music from commercial establishment on second conviction. (NYCDEP, 1998) In Europe the adoption of noise ordinance, such as determining exposure to environmental noise through noise mapping and action planning is still developing. On 25 June 2002, Directive 2002/49/EC of the European Parliament and the Council, relating to the assessment and management of environment noise (hereinafter Environmental Noise Directive, NOISE POLLUTION PAGE 7 END), was adopted. First implementation brought good results, but there are still some difficulties such as need for indicators and strengthened enforcement mechanisms and there are still some areas which need improvement. (EUR -Lex, 2011)

Besides governmental protection, each person should take some simple steps to protect himself or herself from noise pollution. You should keep the volume of your musical player at a comfortable noise level and take breaks from listening. If you are involved in loud work, don’t forget to wear earplugs, earmuffs or any other hearing protective devices, which are required by law to protect you from hearing loss. (Health Hearing, 2010) Be alert to loud noise in your environment and inform your friends and family about harm of noise pollution.

Nowadays, when noise pollution becomes an overall global problem and is taken as seriously as other forms of pollution, as it is similarly damaging to human health, governments are taking steps to protect their population against noise disturbance by creating federal standards and state laws. But citizens should also take individual steps to reducing noise pollution for themselves and for others. I agree with Robert Alex Barton: “A quieter world is possible, if … we don’t take noise for an answer.” (Barton, 1970, p. 276)

NOISE POLLUTION PAGE 8 Selected Bibliography
1. Health Hearing.(2010). Reasons for Hearing Loss: Noise Pollution Levels. Retrieved from http://www.healthyhearing.com/content/articles/Hearing-loss/Causes/47496-Nois

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