Because it is not something you can see or touch, noise pollution doesn’t always receive the same attention as other types of pollution. It does, however, cause health problems from hearing loss to stress or high blood pressure from lack of sleep, so it is important to identify and potentially avoid disturbing or unwanted sounds for the integrity of your overall health.
Cars, Trains and Airplanes
One form of outdoor noise pollution found all over the globe is sound from traffic, including noise from cars, trains and airplanes. Traffic noise can be particularly disturbing if you live or work near a major roadway or airport. Engine sounds, cars backfiring and honking horns all contribute to the collective traffic noise. The University of South Florida reports that a race track has a loudness of 140 decibels and a jet taking off produces 150 decibels. Sounds around 80 to 90 decibels or more contribute to hearing loss if you are exposed to that noise for extended periods of time.
Mechanical Equipment and Industrial Noise
Construction sites are notorious for creating noise pollution, and the constant use of heavy machinery can be annoying to many people. Mechanical equipment, such as lawn mowers, power garden tools or even vacuum cleaners, can be loud enough to damage your hearing. Also, the area where you live or work might be industrial, meaning you could get noise pollution from factory sounds. If you work in a factory, you should always wear earplugs to protect yourself from the loud machine noise.
Another major cause of noise pollution comes from loud sirens, most often heard from emergency vehicles like ambulances and fire trucks. While these sounds are necessary, they can be annoying, especially if you hear these noises frequently. Living or working near a hospital, police station or fire department almost guarantees some disturbance from siren noise. Car alarms also fall into this category.
Many unwanted sounds come from people around you. Crying babies, barking dogs, busy restaurants and stores or homes with loud music are sounds from neighbors and businesses you might find disturbing. Even sounds like the dishwasher running or loud commercials on the television can occur inside your own home. Noise from fireworks, a snoring spouse or neighbors playing a musical instrument are other examples of neighborhood sounds that you may or may not be able to control.