The Health Problems Due to Noise Pollution Don’t Stop at Hearing Loss
Noises are just as a part of life, and we need to adjust, right?
Research scientists Lisa Goines and Leda C Mendonça-Hagler have called noise pollution “a modern plague.” Everywhere human development is, so is noise. Here’s the part we might not realize. All the humming and honking of traffic, and the combination of all unnatural sounds that surround us, constitute a form of air pollution. The audible form can threaten our health just as other forms of air pollution can.
As Goines and Mendonça-Hagler have shown, the health problems due to noise pollution are medically as well as socially important. Noise disrupts sleep. It interrupts our conversations, our imaginations and our work. The researchers came to a profound conclusion: Noisy surroundings should not be imposed on us by others. People have a right to a quiet environment.
Ordinary Noise Can Bring the Risk of Hearing Loss
Noise causes a hearing loss risk. Common landscaping machinery and indoor or outdoor construction work can cause harm, as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) informs us. Anything louder than 75 decibels is noteworthy, and long-term exposure to noise louder than 85 decibels is definitively linked to loss of hearing.
With that threshold in mind consider that:
- The sound of a human being shouting loudly is in the 80 decibel range.
- Traffic in busy cities can rise to 85 decibels and more.
- The nearby sound of a pneumatic drill reaches 110 decibels.
- A dog barking four feet away can reach 95 decibels. (We had to ask: which dogs are loudest? Turns out a barking golden retriever or German shepherd can top 100 decibels.)
- Siren noises reach an ear-splitting 120 decibels.
The science shows the importance of shielding ourselves from these noises as far as possible. Risks increase as noise gets louder or you’re exposed to it for longer periods.
Long-Term Exposure to Noise Is Linked to Diabetes
Most of us know that a desk-bound lifestyle, missing workouts and frequently indulging in high-fat treats can all raise our risk of getting a type 2 diabetes diagnosis.
Recent research, including population-based studies, show that ordinary traffic noises in residential areas also raise the risk of diabetes. Longer exposure correlates with a higher risk.
Why? We don’t know. Noise exposure seems to hamper our bodies’ natural process of accumulating fat in our fat cells. Leaving fatty acids free to circulate in the bloodstream may impede our sugar metabolism.
The researchers note that diabetes symptoms typically take a long time to show up. Yet the pace of suburban and urban development everywhere we live and work is leading to continually higher degrees of environmental sound exposure.
Noise Is a Risk Factor for Heart Disease
Research indicates that road, rail, and air traffic noise impacts the cardiovascular system — after adjusting for the effects of toxins in the air.
Although air pollution is the top environmental reason for life years lost, researchers have pinpointed noise as reason number two for life years lost in European populations. The impact of noise is stronger than effects connected with dioxins, lead and ozone.
This research, then, further underscores the need to manage our working and living environments for the sake of longevity and overall well-being.
Noise Pollution and Mental Health
More than a decade ago, E. Öhrström and colleagues, in the Journal of Sound and Vibration (Elsevier, 2006), studied how road noise affects us and how we benefit from having space on a quieter side of a building. The study had particular significance as it involved close to a thousand people, from teens to elderly folks.
The results? We become less irritable, more relaxed and physically healthier when we have havens from noise. We sleep more soundly. Our moods are better overall.
Having living space on the quiet side of a building eases disturbances by 30-50% for the critical effects examined in this research.
Since noise pollution affects both physical and mental health, what can you do?
Health Problems Due to Noise Pollution Are Preventable
Within the NIH is the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. This organization distributes scientific findings and statistics and encourages hearing loss prevention before it’s too late. Nationwide, 24% of adults aged 20-69 show signs of noise-induced hearing loss in one ear. Thirteen percent of people aged 12 and up have preventable hearing loss in both ears. The health problems due to noise pollution aren’t limited to teens – noise even affects infants in utero.
Chances are, they had no idea it was occurring. Over time, hearing, just like vision, may weaken, making it harder to understand conversations. Part of this impact is genetic. Therefore, it’s not easy to know how significant the risks are in any one person. For some people, loud audiovisual presentations are enough to cause lasting effects.
We do know this: loud or repetitive noise does direct, physical harm. Noise-induced hearing loss occurs because the noise damages the microscopic, hair-like protectors, called stereocilia, that guard the hair cells of the inner ear. Compromised stereocilia means our hair cells stop conveying sound data to our brains. Not just once. Forever.
This means reducing noise pollution is an action you can take now, to immediately eliminate the environmental causes of gradual hearing loss.
A Soundproof Apartment, Home or Office Makes Sense
Offices and residences, schools, studios or labs, hotels and restaurants — all can benefit from the installation of soundproof window inserts in replacement windows. The result? An elimination of up to 75% of heavy vehicular noise, and almost all high-pitched sounds such as warning signals, sirens, and bus brakes.
It’s possible to shield your colleagues, your family and yourself from high or low-level noise pollution and heath hazards. Choose noise-absorbing materials in and around indoor living and working spaces. An excellent solution is the installation of soundproof window inserts.
Keep audible intrusions from entering your rooms and your ears. At Sun and Sound Windows, we’re here to help you manage you indoor environment.
The Best Way to Soundproof a Room: Soundproof Windows
Whether your building is in or around Houston and Galveston, Austin, the Dallas and Fort Worth area or greater San Antonio, we make it easy to soundproof your apartment, home, office or hotel. Well-crafted window inserts are effective shields against traffic and sirens, interior or outdoor construction work, dogs and kennel noises, presentation rooms, and sound pollution from landscaping work or engine-powered businesses. They also block most of your environment’s low-pitched sounds. These might be noises from trains and trucks, air conditioning compressors and other large machinery.
Give us a call today:
- Houston, TX: (281) 223-1010
- San Antonio, TX: (210) 504-4684
- Dallas/Fort Worth, TX: (214) 771-9544
- Austin, TX: (512) 758-6818
Stay focused, productive and healthy, and don’t break your budget to do it. Inserts in replacement windows buffer out noise even as they insulate your interior and increase energy efficiency, thus holding electricity costs down. To find out more, you can also contact us at Sun and Sound Windows online.