Noise pollution is unpleasant noise created by people or machines that can be annoying, distracting, intrusive, and/or physically painful.i Noise pollution can come from sources such as “…road traffic, jet planes, garbage trucks, construction equipment, manufacturing processes, lawn mowers, leaf blowers, and boom boxes.”ii • Noise or sound is measured in decibels (dB). An increase of about 10 dB is approximately double the increase in loudness.iii • A person’s hearing can be damaged if exposed to noise levels over 75 dB over a prolonged period of time. The World Health Organization recommends that the sound level indoors should be less than 30 dB. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognize the harmful health effects of noise pollution.iv,v According to the CDC, noise pollution is “an increasing public health problem” that can lead to a variety of adverse health effects.vi Problems related to noise include hearing loss, stress, high blood pressure, interference with speech, headaches, disturbance of rest and sleep, productivity and mental-health effects, and a general reduction in one’s quality of life.ii
What are the health concerns related to Noise Pollution?
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Noise Pollution and Children in the Child Care Setting
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Studies show that children in classrooms who are exposed to noise pollution experience reading delays.vii Children exposed to noise pollution learn to tune out not only noise but also the teacher’s voice, which can harm their reading and language skills.viii Children have more difficulty understanding spoken language and distinguishing the sounds of speech when learning in a noisy environment.viii Children from noisier areas have higher resting blood pressure and higher stress levels.iv Children develop better concentration skills in a quiet environment.ix
What you can do:
Consider possible sources of noise pollution in the child care setting and identify effective ways to reduce harmful impacts: • Try to use acoustical tile ceilings, wall coverings, and bookshelves to absorb sound.vii • Close windows and doors to shut out noise from road and plane traffic. • Place noisy activities next to each other, away from areas needing quiet for concentration on quiet, learning activities.
Children’s Environmental Health Network www.cehn.org
Healthy Environments for Child Care and Preschool Settings 2009
Noise Pollution Clearinghousehttp://www.nonoise.org/ – web resources like classroom acoustics – assist with testimony and comments presented to planning commissions, zoning boards, city councils, and judges – can also get you in touch with experts in the field and others working on similar projects in your local area or nationally. Phone: 1888.200.8332 NoiseOff – http://www.noiseoff.org/ – teaching guides for elementary students
World Health Organization: Guidelines for Community Noise http://www.who.int/docstore/peh/noise/Comnoise-1.pdf
Noise Off: Frequently Asked Questions web site. Available at: http://www.noiseoff.org/faq.shtml. Accessed 2 March 2007. ii Noise Pollution Clearinghouse: About Noise, Noise Pollution, and the Clearinghouse web site.
Available at: http://www.nonoise.org/aboutno.htm. Accessed 2 March 2007. iii Noise Abatement Society. FAQ. Available at: http://www.noiseabatementsociety.com/tcms/view.do?page=283. Accessed 27 August 2007. iv Berglund B. Guidelines for Community Noise. World Health Organization. 1999. Available at: http://www.who.int/docstore/peh/noise/Comnoise-1.pdf. Accessed 2 March 2007. v Noise: A Health Problem. United States Environmental Protection Agency. 1978. Available at: http://www.nonoise.org/library/epahlth/epahlth.htm#introduction. Accessed 2 March 2007. vi Center for Disease Control: Noise web site. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/hsb/noise/. Accessed 2 March 2007. vii League for the Hard of Hearing: Classroom Acoustics and Hearing web site. 2007. Available at: http://www.lhh.org/noise/children/classroom.html. Accessed 2 March 2007. viii Family Education: Noise Pollution in the Classroom web site. Available at: http://school.familyeducation.com/child-psychology/educational-research/38357.html. Accessed 2 March 2007. ix Family Education: Noise Pollution in the Classroom web site. Available at: http://school.familyeducation.com/child-psychology/educational-research/38357.html. Accessed 2 March 2007.