The noise has become so much that it has a noticeable effect globally. Noise pollution started during urbanization in the middle of the 19th century – the industry was actively developing, and people relocated from villages to cities to earn money.
The working class lived near industrial facilities, with constant noise from machine tools and emissions into the air.
In his writing The Condition of the Working Class in England, Friedrich Engels described the 1840s: several people lived in small rooms and were exposed to noise during and after the working day.
According to the WHO (World Health Organization), noise pollution is one of the most dangerous environmental threats to public health.
According to the European Environment Agency (EEA), noise is responsible for 16,600 premature deaths and more than 72,000 hospitalizations each year in Europe alone.
Noise pollution impacts human health and our ecosystem, flora, and fauna. In this article, we have categorized the impact of noise pollution into 2: Impact on Human Health and Ecosystem.
Table of Contents
Noise Pollution Impacts
According to a study by the WHO and the Joint Research Center of the European Commission, Western Europeans deprived up to 1.6 million years of healthy inhabitants due to noise pollution.
As far as the ecosystem is concerned, noise pollution causes severe damage to animals, compromising their reproduction and generating pathologies with a fatal outcome.
The noises drive away and even kill birds, reducing their local spread and unbalancing the ecosystem with the consequent increase in the population of insects in the absence of their natural predators.
Noise pollution ranks second in terms of health risk. These are some of the dangerous impacts of noise pollution on human health and the ecosystem:
1. Noise Sensitivity
Professor and Doctor of Medical Sciences E. C. Andreeva-Galanina studied the effect of noise on the human body.
She was the first to give a complete description of the clinical picture of the disease developing under the influence of noise – the so-called “Noise Sensitivity.”
The professor studied functional disorders of the nervous and cardiovascular systems and the dynamics of impaired hearing sensitivity when exposed to noise on a person.
She proved that noise is a common irritant and affects not only hearing but also the brain’s structures, causing abnormalities in different body systems.
Thus, noise sensitivity is a disease associated with damage to the hearing, central nervous, and cardiovascular systems caused by prolonged exposure of the human body to intense noise.
2. Hearing Loss
It is estimated that a third of the world’s population and 3 out of 4 inhabitants of industrialized cities have some degree of hearing loss due to exposure to high-intensity sounds.
In recent years, otolaryngologists have identified other risk factors from using personal music players with headphones at excessively high volumes.
Its use is the most popular daily activity among university students, causing hearing loss to appear at younger ages, anticipating the appearance of hearing deficit associated with age by about 20 years.
After these effects, hearing loss does not recover, although communication disorders do not usually appear.
But if constant noise exposure continues, these lesions can extend to the sensory cells, which will capture the waves of optimal frequencies at 4,000 cycles per second, thus initiating a deterioration in communication ability.
It is recommended not to listen to songs and music above the minimum auto output standard with the power on which is less than 85 dB.
If the user decides, voluntarily, to increase the levels to more than 85 dB, these devices incorporate warning measures every 20 hours of listening, which warns of risk and that we are in a dangerous range.
So never exceed the sound of more than 100 dB. In addition, the use of inserts is even more damaging.
3. Extra-Auditory Effects
Outside our ear, noise also causes serious trouble for the rest of our body (extra-auditory damage).
The effects are the most varied: from the increase in blood pressure and respiratory rate to disorders of the gastrointestinal system (dyspepsia, increased motility, and gastric secretion); from alterations to the central nervous system to the hyperactivity of the pituitary, thyroid, and adrenal glands at the level of the endocrine system, up to the changes made to the immune system.
Noise exposure is a source of stress, as it causes significant changes in blood pressure, heart rhythm, vasoconstriction, and endocrine secretion.
According to a recently published scientific article in the European Heart Journal, there is substantial scientific evidence regarding the hormonal response triggered by excessive noise during sleep.
In fact, without realizing it, our body responds to stress due to nocturnal noise pollution by increasing the production of cortisol and adrenaline, hormones capable of triggering cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension, plaque formation, obesity, and diabetes over time.
In any case, they compromise the ability to concentrate and work; therefore – the quality of life. Therefore sound pollution, and noise in general, represent concrete and severe threats to health, to be comprehended in a broad sense as a subject’s psychophysical and social balance.
4. Psychological Effects
The psychological impacts of noise pollution are distractions and inconveniences that can be just as disruptive as the physical and physiological effects on productivity.
Relationships have been found between noise and psychological effects such as discomfort, psychiatric disorders, and effects on psychosocial well-being.
Long-time exposure to intense noise can lead to personality changes and violent reactions. Elderly, children, and people with underlying depression are particularly vulnerable to these effects, as they may lack adequate coping mechanisms.
In addition to impairing concentration, a high noise level can affect learning performance. It also affects the quality of life when it prevents people from enjoying outdoor spaces, such as parks or staying at home.
5. Effects on Children
12.8 percent of children between 8 and 14 have a hearing loss of more than 20 decibels (dB) in at least one ear. The frequency range in which noise-related hearing damage is primarily reflected applies to medium and high tones.
It is one of the Children’s Environment Survey results carried out by the Federal Environment Agency from 2003 to 2006.
Loud background noises, for example, impair brain development in infancy and thus damage hearing and speech. Even toddlers cant learn to speak well if the radio or television is on all the time.
Because then it is difficult for them to filter the words of their parents or educators out of the ambient noise, and children learn to speak by listening. A Munich study from 2002 showed that aircraft noise also damages children’s memory.
Children who lived in the approach lane at Erdingen Airport were less able to remember and read more slowly than their peers who were not exposed to aircraft noise. A British study also showed that aircraft and car noise put nine to ten-year-old children under stress.
6. Harmful to flora and fauna as well
Noise pollution is also bad for plants and animals. The noise sources in the environment are cars, trolleybuses, airplanes, compressors, and more.
Acceptable noise level ranges from 30-60 dB; however, the indicators often exceed these figures, reaching 100 dB.
Numerous tests have established that plants constantly exposed to noise dry out. Their death is the release of too much moisture by the leaves.
It happens because noise pollution exceeds the permissible barrier. So, trees in big cities live much less, and bees, with the sound of a jet engine, lose their ability to navigate in space.
7. Noise Pollution stressing life in the Ocean
The world’s oceans’ ecosystems are in danger from pollution, not only because of what you see but also because of what you hear.
A review article published by Science, led by the Spanish Carlos Duarte, a scientist from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, and the Higher Council for Scientific Research also participates, has collected how anthropogenic noise affects the stress of the marine habitats.
From the song of cetaceans to the breaking of the Arctic sea ice, the world’s oceans’ natural chorus is made up of a wide array of geological and biological sounds.
However, human activities on the high seas, such as fishing, shipping, and infrastructure, have increasingly added to this mix, making modern oceans much louder than ever.
The most widespread source of noise pollution is ship noise because it occurs everywhere and at all times. The most dangerous forms generate the most intense noises, such as underwater bomb explosions of dynamite for fishing.
These affect marine animals on multiple levels, including their behavior and physiology and, in extreme cases, their survival.
Marine animals are susceptible to sound, which they utilize as a prominent sensory cue that guides all aspects of their behavior and ecology. There is a greater urgency to take appropriate actions quickly and appropriately.
8. Silence natural sound of the seas and oceans
Another effect of incorporating new noises by human activities is that it has caused some ocean areas to be increasingly silent.
The habitats deterioration such as coral reefs and the hunting of large marine mammals have caused a sharp decline in the abundance of sound-producing animals – including whales.
Rapid global warming of the climate has also dramatically altered the natural acoustics of Arctic marine environments.
On the one hand, the noise level has risen, and, on the other, the marine ecosystem sounds have been attenuated.
The result is a noisy environment where the animals’ communication is severely disturbed. The sound that identifies their habitats is attenuated and masked by noise.
The fish and invertebrates that drift in search of their habitats cannot find them because they cannot hear them.
9. Altering life in High Altitude
The loud noise interferes with the fauna’s feeding, hunting, and reproductive behavior. The latest environmental noise report in Europe, published in June 2020 by the European Environment Agency, focuses on the effects of noise pollution on human health.
It also highlights this aspect and reveals how the impact of noise on wildlife can manifest itself in both physiological and behavioral responses.
Especially in high altitudes, susceptible animals such as black grouse, ptarmigan, chamois, and ibex live. The violent and sudden noises that frighten animals are particularly harmful. It applies to both Alpine and Apennine environments.
The issue of the effects of noise pollution on fauna becomes particularly delicate in winter, which is when animals have the greatest need for tranquility.
10. Stress and weakness
Regarding the physiological responses to noise pollution, some studies have observed that noise can cause stress, hearing damage, and reduce the immune system response in animals.
For example, a study conducted in the USA showed that traffic noise produces stress responses in frogs that can alter their metabolism and immune systems and vocal sac staining.
When exposed to noise pollution, the birds also showed signs of chronic stress, with altered stress hormone levels, distraction, and hypervigilance.
11. Unusual behavior
There are also a series of behavioral responses caused by noise on animals that affect sleep, movement in space, nutrition, communication, reproduction, and territory defense.
For example, birds have been shown to avoid high traffic noise levels, as street noise makes it more challenging to spot predators by masking their sound.
These physiological and behavioral responses can reduce reproductive success, the increased risk of mortality, and emigration, with a consequent reduction in population density.
Violent and sudden noises are very harmful even during the weaning period: the little ones can move away from their mothers, with the risk of never finding them again and losing contact with their parents.
With the predictions of rapid urban growth and the consequent increase in transport demand, it is possible to estimate a simultaneous increase in noise exposure and, therefore, the adverse effects.
Consequently, it is essential to implement policies that protect our health and wildlife immediately. These actions and policies are specially required during festivals when noise pollution is more prominent.
(Last Updated on December 12, 2021 by Sadrish Dabadi)