What Is Noise Pollution?


Noise pollution is generally defined as regular exposure to elevated sound levels that may lead to adverse effects in humans or other living organisms. According to the World Health Organization, sound levels less than 70 dB are not damaging to living organisms, regardless of how long or consistent the exposure is. Exposure for more than 8 hours to constant noise beyond 85 dB may be hazardous. If you work for 8 hours daily in close proximity to a busy road or highway, you are very likely exposed to traffic noise pollution around 85dB.

This type of pollution is so omnipresent in today’s society that we often fail to even notice it anymore:

Human Diseases Caused by Noise Pollution

Whether we realize we are subjected to it or not, noise pollution can be hazardous to our health in various ways.

Effects of Noise Pollution on Wildlife and Marine Life

Our oceans are no longer quiet. Thousands of oil drills, sonars, seismic survey devices, coastal recreational watercraft and shipping vessels are now populating our waters, and that is a serious cause of noise pollution for marine life. Whales are among the most affected, as their hearing helps them orient themselves, feed and communicate. Noise pollution thus interferes with cetaceans’ (whales and dolphins) feeding habits, reproductive patterns and migration routes, and can even cause hemorrhage and death.

Other than marine life, land animals are also affected by noise pollution in the form of traffic, firecrackers etc., and birds are especially affected by the increased air traffic.

Social and Economic Costs of Noise Pollution

The World Health Organization estimates that one out of three people in Europe is harmed by traffic noise. More than the purely medical effects of noise pollution on the individual, there is a significant social and economic impact. Since noise pollution leads to sleep disturbance, it affects the individual’s work performance during the day, it leads to hypertension and cardiovascular disease and costs the health system additional time and money, and it negatively affects school performance in children.

Tips for Avoiding Noise Pollution