Noise pollution can come in many forms. It can be from mechanical sources, such as cars, planes or other machinery. Machines can be especially harmful in closed-in environments, such as factories. Loud music or other human-produced loud noises can also lead to pollution, which can have an impact on hearing and other health matters.
Effects of Noise Pollution
Noise pollution can cause a host of health problems. Exposure to a single burst of loud noise, such as from a gun shot or standing too near speakers, can rupture an ear drum, which can take up to three months to heal. Long-term effects from both short bursts of noise as well as longer exposure include tinnitus (a constant ringing sound) as well partial to complete hearing loss. In addition to ear health, excess noise has also been shown to cause headaches, hypertension and trouble concentrating.
Creating a Quieter Household
Much of the excess noise going on around a person in her home might seem like background noise, but ears hear it all. Investing in quieter appliances such as dishwashers or washing machines can help, as can turning off the buzzers that indicate the end of their cycle. If a quieter machine can't be purchased, putting it or yourself behind a closed door can also mitigate the sound. Houses can also be built with sound-absorbent materials, such as carpet instead of hardwood floors. Also, being aware of volume levels on music and television helps save ears from too much noise input.
White noise, or ambient noise, can help counteract the sound of loud home appliances or machines at work. White noise machines can play more soothing sounds, such as the ocean or rain, that cover a wide range of the hearing spectrum, blocking incoming distraction-causing sounds. Ambient music is also a way to promote more pleasant sounds while at work or at home. Both noise machines -- or even a radio playing some instrumental music -- are particularly helpful for minimizing noise pollution when a person is attempting to fall asleep.
Plant Some Trees
Trees aren't just good for a neighborhood's environmental health. Planting the right combination of trees can lower the decibels entering your home by about 50 percent. This is mostly because the sound of leaves rustling offsets the sound of other noises, such as machines used for yard work or the sound of cars on the road. In general, trees and shrubs with dense foliage and that are green year-long are the best option, but having a diverse set of plants with different leaf shapes can help cover the full spectrum of potential noise pollutants.
About the Author
An avid lover of science and health, Meg Michelle began writing professionally about science and fitness in 2007. She holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from Creighton University and master’s degree in science writing from Johns Hopkins. Her work has appeared in publications such as EARTH Magazine.
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