Noise pollution is everywhere, from next door’s teen blasting music out on a Sunday afternoon, to the airplanes flying overhead from the airport around the corner. It could even be your noisy colleague talking smutty if you are witty enough to pull such an analogy off.
Pollution is something modern society has become almost fixated upon, and noise, as a form of pollution is something that society turns its nose up at. (Or should that be, turns its ears up at?) In fact, the whole heritage of the word pollution has a dirty background.
A quick Google of the etymology shows that pollution comes from the Latin word to denote defilement in all contexts. Only in the late 20th century did we come to interpret the word in the sense of dirtying the environment.
Why the Change?
Climate change has become a big issue over the past few decades, so few now would disagree that release of toxic gases into the atmosphere is not a defilement of the environment.
Clearly, following an intense period of industrial-scale activities of this nature, we can surely say that humanity began to defile the environment. So what of so-called noise pollution? What sort of nuisance can noise make that defiles the surrounding environment?
Light Pollution as an Explanation for Noise Pollution
To explain what noise pollution is, I am going to use a more visible analogy and usage of the word “pollution”, precisely so that you can see what I am talking about. There is also a quite modern notion of light pollution.
Light pollution involves a scenario in which there is so much light being emitted from certain objects that it obscures one’s vision and hinders a person from seeing something else that is emitting light. The most common such scenario would be looking up at the night sky in a big city.
The stars are invisible, or rather: not visible. The overwhelming light emitted from the surrounding objects within the city overpower the light emitted by the stars, like a cloud which impairs.
Fog of Noise
So noise pollution is an overwhelming noise that is emitted from elsewhere that impairs one’s hearing. Think of that train going over the bridge above your head. How loud it is! Surely you’ve been mid-conversation when such noises occur. Couldn’t there be an noise cancelling life hack out there that could help in these situations?
This kind of noise pollution can actually impair people and cause real harm. Just think: this is one of your senses being jammed momentarily. Cross the road without taking caution and that could be it!
Battling Noise Pollution
The effects of noise pollution can have drastic consequences. Just think of those poor people that live near your local airport’s runway, or those who live by the main trainline. Whilst the sources of noise pollution can vary, the misery of those that have to experience it on a daily basis is consistent.
So what is the solution to noise pollution?
Noise Pollution Solution
On cars and other automobiles, for example, there are mufflers or silencers placed on the exhaust pipes which stop us from experiencing deafening noises when out on the roads. Engineers have even managed to lessen the sound emitted by other modes of transport.
There are other solutions too for other cases. If it’s your teenage son or daughter blasting out music at an inconsiderate volume, you can just tell them to turn it down. But how to reduce the harm of things out of your control?
A simple mechanism to reduce noise pollution in our daily lives is just to close the windows. The amount of noise the outside world produces is unbelievable, especially in heavily populated areas. If, however, there is a full heatwave and keeping the window open is a necessity, you still have options.
Buy earplugs. Earplugs are a lifesaver in many situations, not just when you have a heavy snorer sleeping nearby or a club DJ that doesn’t understand the concept of too loud. Keep a set on your keys and you’ll never forget them.
As stated above, noise pollution is anything that impairs you from hearing what you should or want to be hearing around you. If you want to be hearing your music on the train home and not the conversation of your fellow travelers, you could always invest in a pair of noise cancelling headphones.
They work by monitoring the sound around you and creating a frequency which cancels out this external sound, so you only hear what you want to be listening to.
So we’ve talked about how to help yourself with regards to keeping safe from sound pollution, but what about helping others?
The prevention of noise pollution depends on all of us. It pays to be considerate in all aspects of life, so let’s consider those around us by not beeping our horn unnecessarily, not talking on the phone loudly, and generally not being a noise nuisance for those around us.
Polluting the environment is something we are all concerned about and affects us all, this concerns noise pollution too. Keep the noise to a minimum and we’ll all keep our hearing.
Some Last Thoughts
The solution to noise pollution depends on all of us. The causes of noise pollution are ubiquitous. The harms of this nuisance are plain to hear.
If you get riled up by the person next to you frantically typing away at his keyboard on the train at high volume, or the lad on the bus blaring the music out of his headphones on max volume, start by not doing the same yourself. You can later progress to preaching to others about the benefits in reducing noise pollution.
Who knows, maybe in a few years you’ll be spearheading a global initiative.
Perhaps an international agreement for keeping noise pollution to well below 2DB above pre-industrial levels and limiting the increase to a maximum of 1.5DB, thereby significantly reducing the risks and effect of noise pollution.