While the world is struggling to fix plastic pollution, it’s not the only concern. Noise pollution is a term that keeps getting more attention due to wind turbines, yet, what it actually is and how it can impact you are still not well known.
According to Environmental Pollution Centers, noise pollution refers to regular exposure to elevated sound levels that may lead to adverse effects on humans or other living organisms. So, what qualifies as an elevated sound you ask?
Any sound that exceeds 70 decibels (dB) can be hazardous to your health, at least when exposed to it for an extended period of time. For reference, being next to an active road or highway would be about 85 dB.
So, now that we know what it is, let’s look at how it can affect you.
How Does Noise Pollution Impact Humans?
Let’s begin by focusing on its impact on humans. After all, most people only care when it actually immediately affects them.
There are actually a lot of health problems associated with noise pollution. They include stress-related illnesses, high blood pressure, speech interference, hearing loss, sleep disruption, and lost productivity.
However, the most common health problem is Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL).
Essentially, this is where the permanent damage occurs within your ear, resulting in the loss of hearing. Again, this won’t happen if you just blast your music very loud once in a while. But there’s a high chance you can get it if you regularly encounter high volumes.
For instance, the CDC states that jobs in agriculture, carpentry, mining, oil or gas extraction, construction, or military industry are more likely to experience NIHL.
Unfortunately, if this occurs, there is no way to surgically repair the ear. The good news is that it actually takes a lot for this to occur, so again, unless you have exposure to it on a daily basis, you will be fine.
What About Wildlife?
If it can be this damaging to humans, then how does wildlife deal with it. Well, to put it simply, not very well.
Let’s start simple. Animals use sound to communicate with one another. For example, birds often use mating calls to attract mates. Excessively loud noises disrupt these interactions, which can be disastrous for nearby populations.
Some species, like birds, may try to change the pitch of the mating call, but that doesn’t actually work very well.
Some wildlife species, like bats or whales, actually use sonar to navigate through their environment. When that is not possible, disaster strikes. For instance, one of the most common reasons when whales beach themselves is because they encounter human sonar.
They simply have no idea where they are.
Another key problem animals face is getting food. Predators rely on a variety of senses to track prey, and sound is a big one. Loud sounds can make it more difficult for predators to find prey, which can result in starvation.
It can also result in overpopulation. If predators are failing, it means lesser animals can continue populating.
Noise pollution is something that impacts every living creature on Earth. Ensuring our devices produce less sound is important to preserving biodiversity.
Robert has been following and writing about environmental stories for years at GreenGeeks. He believes that highlighting environmentally friendly practices can help promote change in every household.