Noise pollution is harsh, disturbing noise which has the potential to have a harmful impact on human and animal life. As a result, noise pollution can have a detrimental effect on our ears, potentially causing noise-induced hearing loss.
Noise Pollution: A 21st Century Concern...
For most people, loud noises are part of daily life. The roars of a passing train, the clamour of a construction site, the blast of an overly loud car stereo. Sometimes, however, the sounds that occur in our environment can create stress and permanently damage hearing. Many noise sources are becoming better controlled. However, the number of sources and geographical spread of noise is increasing. There are more flights; plans for runway expansions and road traffic numbers also continue to rise. With transport pressures set to continue, the potential for this type of noise pollution to grow in proportion is significant.
What are the Biggest Causes of Noise Pollution?
The rising problem of noise pollution has many causes, they include:
- Vehicles & Transportation Transport is a common cause of environmental noise pollution. This includes the sirens from ambulances, police cars and emergency vehicles.
- Everyday Sounds These include radios, music players, television, alarms, washing machines, refrigerators, dishwashers, telephones, as well as landscaping equipment such as shredders, trimmers, and mowers. A study by Action On Hearing Loss identified that 91% of us would avoid revisiting a noisy restaurant.
- Industrial Sounds & the Workplace Where we work could be a lead cause of outdoor noise pollution. Construction industries, agriculture, and even teaching careers can generate excessive noise. Even continued exposure to loud sounds in an office can be a form of noise pollution, which has the potential to be harmful.
- Population Growth The ever growing number of people on the planet and the added expanse of urban areas means the hustle and bustle of cities is a growing issue. More people, more jobs and more industry can equate to more noise and more damaging noise.
The Harmful Impact of Noise Pollution
Advanced technology affects the community and environment. Besides annoyance and sleep disturbance issues, several specific forms of ill health are associated with exposure to outdoor noise pollution. For examples, continued exposure to urban sounds such as ongoing noise from consistent traffic can lead to coronary heart disease.
This article from The Independent sheds more light on the health implications: How Noise Pollution Can Affect Your Health.
The animal kingdom is also affected by noise pollution. Recent studies show that oysters rely on sound even though they don't have ears. Human-induced noise is also disrupting clam-life and fish.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
In addition to irritability, digestive problems, and biochemical changes, exposure to excessive noise can cause acoustic trauma. This can be in the form of noise-induced hearing loss or tinnitus. Sounds enter the ear and are carried through the eardrum to the middle ear where small hairs located in the cochlea transform the sound waves into electrical impulses. The hearing nerves transmit these impulses to the brain. Afterwards, the brain interprets them as sounds. This is how one sound is recognised from another.
Continuous exposure to loud noise can damage the hair cells and once damaged, they cannot be repaired. This is known as sensorineural hearing loss, which may require hearing aids to effectively manage the condition. Sudden loud noise, such as gunfire or an explosion can damage the hairs. Also, ordinary devices such as chainsaws, tools, stereos, blow dryers can substantially impair hearing. Generally, noise-induced hearing loss begins with trouble hearing high-frequency tones and then gradually starts to include lower tones as it becomes more severe. This usually affects both ears equally. Unfortunately, it is predicted that noise-induced hearing loss will continue to increase due to prolonged exposure to massive industrial equipment, huge vehicles, and loud music. It is therefore important to wear suitable ear protection and consider the levels of self-controlled noise to which you expose yourself.
How Can I Protect My Hearing?
At Hearing Direct, you will find a number of valuable ways to help keep your ears safe from harmful, damaging sounds. Hearing protection such as earplugs can be a key method to reduce the amount of aggressive sound that enters the ear canal. Earplugs can be worn wherever and whenever meaning you can avoid the risk of noise-induced hearing loss or reduce exposure when in noisy environments.
If you have any concerns about your hearing, take our free online hearing test. Alternatively, if you have any questions, get in touch and our expert team will do their very best to help you.