What is the Definition?
Noise pollution is generally defined as regular exposure to elevated sound levels that may lead to adverse effects in humans or other living organisms. According to the World Health Organization, sound levels less than 70 dB are not damaging to living organisms, regardless of how long or consistent the exposure is.
What are the sources and effects?
Sources of Noise pollution
Effects of Noise pollution
1) Street traffic sounds from cars, buses, pedestrians, ambulances etc.
2) construction sounds like drilling or other heavy machinery in operation
3) Constant loud music in or near commercial venue
4) Industrial sounds like fans, generators, compressor, mills
5) Household sounds, from the television set to music playing on the stereo or computer, vacuum cleaners, fans and coolers, washing machines, dishwashers, lawnmowers, etc.
6) Events involving fireworks, firecrackers, loudspeakers, etc.
7) Conflicts generate noise pollution through explosions, gunfire, etc. The dysfunctions, in this case, are likely caused by the conflict and insecurity and less by the noise pollution in itself, although that compounds stress levels too.
Human - Hypertension, Hearing loss, Sleep disturbances, Child development, Dementia and Psychological dysfunctions.
Wildlife and Marine Life - Noise pollution thus interferes with cetaceans’ (whales and dolphins) feeding habits, reproductive patterns and migration routes, and can even cause hemorrhage and death.
Social and Economic - Since noise pollution leads to sleep disturbance, it affects the individual’s work performance during the day, it leads to hypertension and cardiovascular disease and costs the health system additional time and money, and it negatively affects school performance in children.
Case Study: Noise pollution and Mumbai Traffic
On a busy street, during office hours, the honking can go up to what has scientifically been proven to be a health hazard. To tackle the problem, in at least three busy intersections in Mumbai, they went about installing “punishing signals”. Essentially, they attached a decibel meter to the traffic signal to measure sound when the traffic light is red. As soon as the level reached 85 decibels (the level above which sound is considered to become dangerous), the signal resets the red light, making the wait even longer.