For every individual, noise is a part of life. In many cases, it remains in the background, and we do not register it, like the vehicular noise from the highways and roads across our houses, or the aircrafts that fly regularly over some areas. Sometimes, it can be frustrating, like the loudspeakers at religious and spiritual places. In some cases, we actually seek more noise, like when we visit pubs, attend music shows, and watch movies. In developed nations, like the European ones, the top three emitters of noise pollution are road transport, railways, and aircraft. The first one impacts a larger population compared to the next two. In developing nations, like India, other pollutant activities are crucial — street noise, and decibel levels from events.
A study notes the effects of noise pollution on human health, as well as other living and non-living beings. These include:
In a social survey around the London airport, 22% complained that their sleep was disrupted because of the noise. In other areas, where the levels were higher, the figure rose to 50%.
Continuous exposure to sound over 100 decibels has an adverse effect on hearing within a fairly short time. To put this in perspective, 100 decibels is created during a jet take-off, and use of power lawn mower, motorcycle, tractor, and garbage truck. A dishwasher, car wash, food blender, and diesel truck increase levels by 80-90 decibels. Conversations in restaurants, office chatter, air-conditioners, and living room music add 60-80 decibels.
They can lead to speech interference, annoyance, fatigue, and emotional distress. According to HM Stationery Office report, noise certainly does not contribute in the least to mental illness. But this was disputed by other studies that claim the opposite.
Other Living Beings
Birds tend to avoid migration to places where the noise levels are over 100 decibels. Fishes and birds stop laying eggs in such regions, and mammals may witness miscarriages.
High noise levels can crack hills and monuments. They can break glass panes, and cause vibrations in buildings.