If you have travelled out of India, you may have noticed how one of the first things that hit you once you’re out of the airport is the sound of honking vehicles. It feels unnecessary, not just for basic road hygiene, but also for messing with people’s mental health! It’s time we pay heed to the side effects of noise pollution on health, and make an effort to reduce our own contribution towards it.
A recent study published in the Journal of American College of Cardiology recently confirmed that street noise can raise stress levels. Noise pollution has been rising in India, with another survey finding that noise levels were 50 percent higher than the permissible limit of 50 dB.
In the country, one of the most significant contributors of noise pollution is road traffic. With an increasing population, there will be an increasing demand for transportation requirements. This, in turn, will also lead to rise in vehicular traffic which will cause congestion of roads and rise in noise levels. Poor urban planning also leads to rising levels of noise disintegration. Thus, Indians will be surrounded by noise on a daily basis which can have harmful effects on their health.
We need to dial down harmful noise and instead use the power of sound for a healthy mind.
Side effects of noise pollution on health
There are several harmful effects of noise pollution on one’s health. This includes:
1. Hearing loss: Loud sounds usually lead to reduced hearing capacity as it damages the cells and membranes in the cochlea. The hearing loss also progresses as long as one is exposed to loud noises. These harmful effects could also continue even after the noise exposure has stopped.
2. Stress: Several studies have indicated that exposure to high decibel noise puts our automatic nervous system under stress. This involuntary part of our nervous system controls our blood pressure, breathing, heart rate and digestion. So, high noises leads to the release of stress hormones.
3. Sleep disruption: Higher blood pressure and noise levels can also disrupt one’s sleep. This leads to even further rise in stress levels.
Tips to reduce noise pollution in our lives
There are specific festivals such as Diwali, Dussehra and Ganesh Chaturthi in India when the noise pollution levels go up. To reduce noise pollution, there are several solutions that can be implemented on an institutional level. But on an individual level, there are a few steps one could initiate.
1. Modifying noise paths
At the workplace, for example, one could erect enclosures around machines to reduce the amount of noise emitted in the workplace and its environment. Such modifications of noise paths will help in reducing people’s exposure to it as well.
2. Turning off appliances
While this also helps in reducing the amount of electricity utilized, turning off appliances can also help reduce noise pollution. It should become a norm at homes and at offices to turn off any appliance when not in use.
3. Noisy machines
Whenever a machine that emits lot of noise is being used, it’s best if one would shut the door of the room it is in when at home. This will reduce one’s exposure to the noise as well. For the workplace, it is ideal to relocate the machine in an isolated zone.
4. Protective devices
One should use protective ear devices such as ear plugs while travelling through heavily congested zones or working with machines that emit loud noises.
5. Adhering to noise limits
Reducing noise pollution begins with oneself. This needs to be done by following the noise level limits and adhering to the rules with regards to noise pollution. Less or no honking, not utilising loud speakers in silent zones and modifying noise paths of noisy machines will help in reducing noise levels.