When you wake up in the morning what do you hear? If it’s the sounds of cars from the street, your neighbor’s dog who is insistent on barking or the loud sounds of airplanes overhead you are living amongst noise pollution and it could be more dangerous than you may suspect!
Sources of Noise Pollution in Your Neighborhood
Even in a small town or in the countryside, it is getting harder and harder to get away from noise these days. The volume of sound is measured in decibels and while any sound beyond 85 dBA for eight hours or more can cause permanent hearing damage, even lower levels can contribute to noise pollution and the implications are dangerous. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that an exposure of 70 dBA or higher for 24 hours or more is defined as noise pollution. WHO goes on to define noise pollution as noise that “seriously harms human health and interferes with people’s daily activities at school, at work, at home and during leisure time. It can disturb sleep, cause cardiovascular and psychophysiological effects, reduce performance and provoke annoyance responses and changes in social behavior.”
Common Sources of Noise Pollution
You may hear these sounds in your home all the time and not give it a second thought but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t an issue. When the brain hears sounds constantly it often puts them in the back of consciousness, however they could be increasing stress levels and influencing the quality of your rest. This includes:
- Traffic noise
- Loud music from neighbors and passing cars
- Emergency sirens
- Power tools such as lawn mowers and leaf blowers
- Neighborhood construction zones
- Sound from a nearby entertainment venue such as for music or sports
- Airplane traffic overhead
However sometimes the sounds which are causing stress come from inside your own home. This includes:
- Shouting kids
- A loud TV or music
- Home appliances such as vacuum cleaner, air conditioner, dishwasher or blender
The Harmful Effects of Noise Pollution
It may just seem like noise, but it can have devastating effects on your health. Whether you realize it or not, loud sounds interrupt your sleep and cause low levels of stress throughout the day. This can result in sustained release of cortisol, the brain’s stress chemical. Cortisol ideally is released in high stress situations where the body and brain need to go into fight or flight simulation. This puts us on edge and makes it hard for us to rest. Over time this can result in sleep issues, constant anxiety and even hypertension, increasing the risk of heart attack or stroke.
How to Deal with Noise Pollution
You can’t always control your neighbors, but the good thing is that you can always turn down the volume in your own home. Turn down the volume on the TV and wait to run only one appliance at a time when possible. Inserting mats under loud appliances may absorb a portion of the sound and reduce the decibel level.
It may be hard to keep the kids from shouting, but by insulating your home from sound you may be able to keep sounds at a safer level. Make sure your home has carpets to absorb sound. To keep sounds from outside from being too loud hang heavy curtains over windows and if you can plant dense foliage to absorb outside sounds.
Protecting Your Hearing
The sounds in our world can get loud and it seems there is no sign of it getting quieter. Come prepared with protective ear plugs or headphones to lower the decibels when out in the world. Common sources of noise where hearing protection is appropriate include:
- A Noisy bus or subway car
- A Loud concert or sports game
- When riding a motorcycle or motorboat
- Mowing the lawn or using power tools
Loud sounds not only cause stress but can cause permanent hearing damage as well. To make sure your hearing is healthy we are here to help. Schedule a hearing exam with us today. If a hearing loss is detected we can help you hear with clarity again. For more tips on protecting your hearing, contact us today to set up a hearing exam.