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The best way to begin understanding noise pollution is with information and facts about how noise is measured, when it is considered “pollution", when it reaches dangerous levels and what exactly can be done about it. The first thing that comes to mind when people are asked about noise pollution is usually the thumping bass in a passing car. Although this is annoying it is one of the most benign of all noise pollutants and rarely causes long term harm to anyone outside of the vehicle (inside the vehicle it’s a different story).
Most forms of noise pollution are of a simple annoying nature such as those inside and emanating from many buildings. Engineers have been working on ways to combat ambient sounds and white noise and there have been great strides made in building materials that allow office buildings and private homes to eliminate many of the internal and external sources of unwanted noise.
This being said, perhaps the most important problem associated with noise pollution is one of the least talked about, that is how it effects the animals in our environment. Animals that rely on sonar for navigation are the most at risk group but cephalopods can also be damaged by low frequency sound waves. So, although we are usually only aware of the “noise" in our immediate area some of the greatest environmental damage is being done in our oceans. That’s not to say that reducing or removing annoying noise pollution from our environment isn’t a priority, it is. Unwanted noise can result in everything from mild annoyance and reduced productivity to physical illness and permanent hearing impairment.
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We all agree that there is a point at which sounds can become annoying but at what point do they become physically harmful? Is there a way to measure this point? Does the compact nature of the urban landscape shelter people from dangerous levels of sound or does it actually amplify the sound waves and make them more dangerous?
Noise pollution, although a problem in and of itself, can actually serve as a reminder of all of the other environmentally hazardous activities that are going on in the world around us. In this piece it is suggested that noise pollution is a byproduct of other, more dangerous environmental threats and that recognizing the byproduct is the first step in finding a solution.
Where does underwater noise pollution come from and why should we care about it anyway. If we aren’t scuba diving, there’s little chance that we’re going to be directly affected by it, right? Wrong. This survey reveals the most common sources of ocean noise and how it hampers the migratory patterns of various fish and mammals.
Recent studies suggest that some of the smartest creatures in the sea - cephalopods like the giant squid and octopus - are suffering life threatening injuries from low frequency sound waves generated by machines. Seismic air guns used for exploration are one of the major causes of this damage.
Low frequency sound waves are not a problem limited to the underwater regions of the world. Areas near the giant turbines of wind farms often suffer a similar type of effect. The constant “wump. wump, wump" of the spinning blades can cause an auditory annoyance, but more importantly a body can actually feel the vibrations of the sound waves which leads to nausea.
How might an architect or engineer plan a building to reduce the influx of noise? Are there specific tricks or tips to building orientation or placement that will help? What about the interior, what can be done there? Look at the civil engineering advice given here.
While technical definitions of noise pollution are based on decibel levels it is much easier to understand the principle in the colloquial sense as simply an intrusion of unwelcome sound in the environment. Are there tried and true techniques to reduce the amount of intrusive sound that enters a room or building? In fact there are. Here the most basic of these are discussed.
Do you live on a busy road? Are you woken up at all hours of the night by honking horns and screeching tires? If so, you’ll probably want to check out the soundproofing methods and products discussed here. Most of these products are easy to install and won’t break the bank.
Types of Sound Reducing Windows
Windows are one of the weakest points in a home or office when it comes to letting noise through. Sound waves transfer through glass better than walls because they are much thinner and offer virtually no dead space to stop the sound waves. However, there are windows out there that have been designed specifically to reduce the transmission of sound.
With the invention of the internet and the devastation wrought by the global financial crisis there has been a boom in the number of people working from home. Many of these workers forget to take into account the noise of their living space when designing a home office. Here are some helpful tips on how to reduce those noises, to create an environment that will allow you to concentrate on the work at hand.
Work related noise pollution isn’t limited to the home office. Cubicle style offices do little to reduce the noise in the environment and this can cause irritability and poor production from workers. How can a business manager combat this “invisible" assailant? This five step plan will have a work place going from a carnival to an oasis in no time.
Although great strides have been made to deal with hearing loss here is still no way to completely reverse damage to the inner ear. Here we look at the causes of hearing impairment including a section dedicated to noise pollution and what steps can be taken to prevent this from happening in an otherwise healthy child.
- Photo Credit: PhotoSpin