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Noise Pollution: A Great threat to life!
|by Dr. Naseem Sheikh|
When talking about pollution in general people usually refer to air and water pollution neglecting the global threat of noise pollution. They seem to forget or are not aware of the fact that noise pollution is disturbing life of all biota present in ecosystem.
Generically, the term 'noise' is used to refer to any unwanted sound. This may range from the sound created when you hammer a nail into a wall, to the sound created by an aircraft overflying your house. Noise pollution describes any sound created by people, animals, and machines that disturbs the environment.
Urbanization, economic growth and motorized transport are some of the driving forces for environmental noise exposure and health effects. Environmental noise is defined as noise emitted from all sources except industrial workplaces.
The response of the human ear to sound depends both on the sound frequency (measure in Hertz, Hz) and sound pressure, measure in decibels (dB). The WHO guidelines for community noise recommend less than 30 A-weighted decibels (dB(A)) in bedrooms during the night for a sleep of good quality and less than 35 dB(A) in classrooms to allow good teaching and learning conditions.
The WHO guidelines for night noise recommend less than 40 dB (A) of annual average (L night) outside of bedrooms to prevent adverse health effects from night noise.
dB Decibel − units used to measure sound pressure levels on a logarithmic scale.
Decibel Levels of Environmental Sounds
*** Franks JR, Stephenson MR, Merry CJ. Preventing occupational hearing loss. A practical guide. DHSS (HIOSH) pub. No. 96-110. And National Institute of Deafness and Other Communicative Disorders: Noise Induced Hearing Loss.
Noise Pollution Health Hazards
Noise has become a very important "stress factor" in the environment of man. The term "noise pollution" has been recently used to signify the hazard of sounds which are consequence of modern day development, leading to health hazards of different type.
Noise Pollution Effect on Public Health
Although most developed nations have government agencies responsible for the protection of the environment, no nation has a single body that regulates noise pollution. Transportation noise is usually regulated by the relevant transportation ministry, health-related work noise is often regulated by health ministries and worker’s unions, and entertainment noise such as loud music is a criminal offense in many areas. Little is currently being done to reduce noise pollution in developed countries.
Some scientists believe that noise pollution could have a negative impact on the entire marine food web chain. One of the latest studies by the Technical University of Catalonia in Barcelona showed that dolphins and whales are not only marine animals seriously affected with noise pollution as squids and octopuses are also experiencing massive acoustic trauma because of the increased noise pollution in our oceans.
Impact of Noise on Birds
Some people just want some peace and quiet, and apparently, so do the birds. The University of Colorado at Boulder has conducted a three-year study that proves in July 2009 that noise pollution affects birds and their habits. The biggest problem that birds face when there is too much noise is their ability to communicate. Birds that vocalize at lower frequencies are easily drowned out by noise pollution, affecting their ability to attract a mate and socialize with the other birds in their community. But finches and other birds that vocalize at a higher frequency appear uninfluenced by the hustle and bustle of noise pollution--apparently ignoring the mass exodus of their fellow, winged friends.
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