The screech of brakes, roar of motorcycles and beat of bass form the backdrop of our lives. While it may seem ubiquitous and harmless, noise pollution is harming children, teens and even unborn infants.
What Is Noise Pollution?
Noise pollution, also known as sound pollution and environmental noise, is unwanted, excessive and harmful noise. It affects adults, infants and children as well as wildlife. Transportation, construction equipment, outdoor equipment such as leaf blowers and music all contribute to noise pollution. The growing population, city overcrowding and new technology and industrial equipment have resulted in major increases in the average level of noise we hear daily, even while we sleep.
Sound levels are measured in decibels. Zero decibels is the point at which sound becomes audible. 110 decibels is the sound a chainsaw operator hears. When individuals are exposed to 120 decibels without wearing protective gear, they may suffer physical pain.
An employee on any given day at work is exposed to sound at an average of 85 decibels. This is the level at which prolonged noise exposure may cause hearing loss. Sirens are 120 decibels, the level at which exposure for even one minute can cause hearing damage.
Why Are Children Having Hearing Loss?
Noise pollution has been a contributing factor to the more than 120 million people worldwide with disabling hearing difficulties.
Another contributing factor to youth having poorer hearing health is their never-ending love affair with the headphone. While they are trying drown out other noise, they are exposing themselves to unhealthy decibel levels close to their delicate ear drums.
Unfortunately, when you add the increased use of headphone devices with environmental noise issues – increased infrastructure, construction sites, emergency vehicles, transportation noise and everything else – we are in danger of spawning a generation with hearing problems.
When your youngster says they didn’t hear your request to clean up their room, they may be telling the truth. Audiologists around the country concur. They report that they are treating more and more youth, including prescribing and fitting children and teens with hearing aids due to this continuing problem.
From Diabetes to Ulcers: Health Problems Due to Noise Pollution
The effects of noise pollution on children’s health aren’t limited to hearing problems.
Noise pollution causes digestive spasms, which could lead to gastrointestinal problems. Studies have shown it also leads to elevated heart rates and increased stress both on the body and mind. The stress can result in a reduced ability to concentrate and an increase in anxiety.
Older children who are exposed to excessive noise may acquire learning disabilities, attention deficit problems, resistance to insulin, high blood pressure, ulcers induced by stress and increased cardiovascular diseases.
Lack of sleep or poor sleep due to noise pollution creates its own set of health problems. These include a greater risk of diabetes and heart disease and increased anxiety and depression. For children and teens, a lack of sleep can also negatively affect their relationships and increase irritability.
The Effects of Noise Pollution on Unborn Infants
The detrimental effects of noise pollution on children’s health start from the time they are conceived. Newborns are entering the world with high-frequency hearing loss due to in utero exposure to excessive noise. These newborns also may suffer from cochlear damage, general birth defects, being born prematurely and stunted growth.
Newborns who are around sounds that exceed 45 dB can experience high blood pressure and high heart rate. Their respiratory rate may increase as well and there may be a decrease in oxygen saturation.
Effects of Noise on Learning
For children to learn, they need the proper environment. According to the Institute for Enhanced Classroom Hearing, children miss 30 percent of what the teacher says due to excessive noise and reverberation.
Ambient noise is comprised of all of noise that does not come from the primary instructional medium – the teacher or instructional media device. External ambient noise includes sounds wafting in from the playground, airplanes, lawnmowers, traffic and even animals outside. Internal ambient noise includes the talking from other children in the classroom, an old heating system or a wall fan, lights humming or hallway traffic.
Reverberation is the ability of the room to absorb the energy that is put into the room. Many older buildings weren’t constructed to diminish reverberation or ambient noise.
Both reverberation and ambient noise contribute to a poor hearing environment and a resultant poor learning environment. The effects of noise on learning have long-reaching and long-lasting impact.
What Are Noise Pollution Solutions?
Our children are growing up in a world growing noisier by the nanosecond, yet school assignments and 21st-century jobs increasingly require the ability to concentrate and think critically. What can parents do?
According to Decibel Hell: The Effects of Living in a Noisy World, “a change in environment can improve a person’s hearing health.” That’s where parents, administrators and educators become critical in promoting our children’s hearing health. We can make improvements and work to reduce the effects of noise pollution and the accompanying heath problems.
- Reduce the volume of your TV, music and especially your headphones. Lower the volume to the softest you can comfortably hear it.
- Turn off appliances when not in use. Fluorescent lights, fans, pool pumps all contribute to noise pollution.
- Consider soundproof glass window inserts. This is among the simplest and most cost effective noise pollution solutions. Sun and Sound Windows’ soundproof window inserts for hotels, offices, homes and apartments offer a quick, tangible way to block the boom. The use of these inserts can potentially reduce 75 percent of low-pitched noises like bass music and 95 percent of high-pitched noises such as bus brakes and sirens.
As parents, we know that there is something that we can do to reduce the effects of noise pollution and create a healthier sound environment in our homes.
Contact us to get a free estimate on soundproofing your glass doors and windows to cost effectively reduce the effects of noise pollution in your home or office.