There are different types of noise pollution that can have a big impact on our lives. Noise pollution is something that impacts communities across the globe, and it comes from many different places. It’s worse in some places than others, but most areas will experience some sort of noise pollution at various times. In today’s article, I’m going to look at 10 types of noise pollution that affect society…
What is noise pollution?
Before we dive into 10 types of noise pollution that affect society, let’s start by defining noise pollution itself.
Noise pollution is an excessive or disruptive sound that can cause harm to human health or the environment. It can come from a variety of sources, including transportation, construction, industrial activities, and recreational activities.
Noise pollution can cause annoyance, stress, hearing loss, and sleep disturbance in humans. It can also affect wildlife, disrupting communication and behaviour patterns. Noise pollution is measured in decibels (dB), with levels above 85 dB being considered harmful. To reduce noise pollution, measures can be taken such as using noise barriers, mufflers, and sound-absorbing materials, as well as implementing regulations and guidelines for noise levels in different settings.
There are many health issues associated with noise pollution. Some of these include:
- Increased stress from being annoyed or incurring a lack of productivity
- Hearing damage
- Lack of sleep leading to further health issues
- Cognitive impairment in children
- High blood pressure
Without further ado, let’s look at 10 types of noise pollution that affect society…
1. Cars and buses
Cars, buses and other road vehicles are one MAJOR source of noise pollution, continually impacting societies across the globe. The noise from engines, horns, squeaking brakes… there are various different elements making up noise pollution caused by road vehicles. This is, of course, more concentrated in urban areas where there is a much higher number of vehicles; however, it does impact otherwise quiet rural areas too.
Due to a higher number of cars on the road now than ever before, it goes without saying that there is much more vehicle-related noise pollution now too. However, steps are being taken to reduce this – especially through the introduction of electric vehicles, which by and large are much quieter than traditional vehicles. This is because they actually don’t have any of the mechanical valves, fans, or gears of traditional combustion engine-run vehicles. Hopefully this is one way we can reduce one of the types of noise pollution.
Used generally for celebrations, such as on Independence Day in the USA and Bonfire Night in the UK, as well as at outdoor concerts and festivals around the world, fireworks are beautiful. However, they can be very loud! The bangs, whizzes, pops and explosions do contribute to noise pollution. They can be especially scary for animals, both wild and domesticated, as well as children and the elderly or people with war-related PTSD.
There is no real way of tackling the types of noise pollution caused by fireworks, as they are used so briefly and in many places there are no regulations around who can buy and use them. Each year, around major events like the two mentioned above, there will be petitions circulating to ban the sale of fireworks to the general public. Sticking to just having organised and official displays would definitely reduce the amount of noise pollution, as well as making it much safer for all involved.
If you have ever lived in a city or suburb, you will most definitely have been on the wrong side of the types of noise pollution caused by construction work. Diggers, pneumatic drills, cement mixers – they all cause loud and disturbing noises which can really make it hard to concentrate on work or leisure activities. Most countries have laws in place preventing construction work from taking place between certain times (generally around 9pm and 8am, as it is Spain during weekdays) which definitely helps matters.
Construction-related noise pollution is a necessary ‘evil’, as we need to build homes, schools, hospitals and hospitality venues to ensure people can live safely and happily. But that doesn’t stop it being one of 10 types of noise pollution that affect society!
Tourism is a big contributor to list of types of noise pollution – but in a slightly different way to the causes mentioned already. That is, tourism encompasses a lot of different types of noise pollution. Increased demand for hotels in a particular area, for example, might lead to more construction-related noise. And as places get busier, there is likely to be more cars or other vehicles on the road – again increasing the amount of noise pollution in a particular area.
In turn, this increase and change in noise levels can be damaging for wild animals, causing them to change their habits or even migrate away from an area. It can also be annoying for local residents, of course, to have their lives impacted by increased levels of noise pollution. You can read more about how local people feel about this sort of issue in my article about Doxey’s Irritation Index!
5. Concerts and festivals
Although this might sound like an enjoyable type of noise, concerts and festivals can definitely be some of the 10 types of noise pollution that affect society. People who live near to places where large festivals take place can be impacted by the noise of both the music itself, and the thousands of partygoers shouting and singing at the top of their lungs. Because of this, there are often laws in place preventing how loud speakers can be – the decibel level has to be managed.
An article in Luxiders suggests that plants growing in noisy environments are observed to have difficulties to take in nutrients. It seems like the waves of noise disrupt the sensorial, organic communication between an organism and its immediate exterior. In the case of humans, many studies have corroborated that high levels of sound pressure is linked to chronic diseases, stress, and irreversible noise-induced-hearing-loss. Although there are regulatory policies aiming at protecting our hearing ability, the restrictions are either set right at the border of what would be already dangerous, or inexhaustive. Even the World Health Organization hasn’t figured out the right formula and provides ambiguous guidelines for long-lasting exposure to loud sounds such as music festivals.
While animals can be impacted by noise pollution, they are also often the cause of it. For example, if you live on a road where somebody keeps their dog outside for hours on end while it barks constantly… that’s one of the major types of noise pollution that affect society. And in rural areas, such as near farms with a large number of animals, the noise of cows mooing or rams bleating is a cause of noise pollution. This is definitely one of the more minor causes, but it is still one of them nonetheless.
7. Air traffic
I’ve spoken about road vehicles being one of the types of noise pollution that affect society. But it’s not just cars, buses and vans… planes and helicopters definitely contribute to the issue too! A single aircraft actually produces 130 decibels of noise, which is pretty hefty. This issue is obviously worse for people who live close to airports or landing strips, but it impacts a lot of communities. For example, if crime levels are high and a police helicopter often has to be deployed, then air traffic noise is going to be much higher.
Air traffic-related noise pollution is intermittent, but it is definitely there. The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority lists a few different impacts of aviation noise on our health and wellbeing – these include annoyance, increased heart rate, disturbed sleep and more.
8. Poor urban planning
This is another ‘cause’ in the same way that tourism is – it encompasses a variety of the other causes to create an overall issue. Some issues caused by poor urban planning which lead to increased noise pollution include:
- Congested housing areas – e.g housing estates with too many houses in one small space, or houses with too many people living in them
- A lack of regulations in terms of how many cars and other vehicles can be on the roads
- Not enough parking spaces available
- Housing or schools being located too near to industrial buildings or factories
- Traffic jams
- Competition for basic amenities leading to arguments
- Poor surface properties of buildings
As you can see, there are many ways in which poor urban planning can lead to an increase in noise pollution.
9. Social events
Another one of the types of noise pollution that affect society is social events. This again covers a wide range of things, which go on to create noise pollution through some of the causes we have discussed already in this article. When you have people attending parties, pubs or nightclubs for example, and they are near other populated areas, this can cause a lot of concentrated noise pollution. This is especially true when events are ending at the same time, late at night, and the streets are filled with people (who may or not be intoxicated) talking, laughing, shouting and so on.
Social events also lead to an increased number of vehicles on the road; for example, if you’re attending a convention at an inner-city arena or exhibition centre, you’ll notice a long stream of cars heading to the destination alongside you. These cars would not be there otherwise, meaning that this social event has caused noise pollution by these vehicles being on the road.
There are so many examples of social events which cause noise pollution in different countries and communities across the globe; these might include bustling markets, busy beach parties, Bar Mitzvahs, weddings, funerals, school fairs, christenings, and so many more.
10. Household chores/jobs
Another of the types of noise pollution is jobs that we do within our households. Using the vacuum cleaner, for example, creates noise pollution – albeit on a much smaller scale than an aeroplane! But it’s still an example, alongside devices like blenders, lawn mowers, washing machines and more. It might only impact you and your family, or your neighbours, but that doesn’t make it any less of a real type of noise pollution.
Following on from this, leisure activities within the home can be a contribution to annoying or damaging noise levels. These might include watching the TV or listening to music at a high volume, cooking with a stand mixer, having your air conditioning on while relaxing, making an iced coffee… the list goes on!
And over time, these seemingly harmless activities can have an impact on your hearing and general health. It is said that noisy homes do not provide the sanctuary that our homes should be (a place to relax and unwind away from our jobs or education, for example) and for many this is true. With small children or noisy pets this might seem unavoidable, but there are always ways in which you can reduce the noise levels in your home or at least lessen their impact.
Some ways to do this include using earplugs, turning the volume down, hand washing dishes instead of using a dishwasher and so on.
Types of noise pollution- To conclude
As you can see, these are 10 types of noise pollution that affect society – they do so in different ways and at different levels, but nevertheless they are all examples of this type of pollution.
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