During the last twenty years there has been increasing concern with the quality of the environment. Along with air and water contaminants, noise pollution has been recognized as a serious pollutant. As noise levels have risen, the effects of noise have become more apparent.
Noise is defined as “unwanted sound”. Noise has adverse effects on people and the environment. Noise causes hearing loss, interferes with human activities at home and work, and is in various ways dangerous to people’s health and well being. Studies show that over forty percent of Americans are disturbed at home or lose sleep because of noise pollution.
Causes of noise pollution include traffic, aircraft, rock bands, barking dogs, amplified music, television, garbage trucks, and noise from neighbors, voices, alarms, and watercrafts.
Annoyance: When we think, talk, listen to music, or sleep we need quiet. Even low levels of noise can be annoying or frustrating. Sudden increases in volume can make sounds annoying - this is why sirens are so intrusive. The quieter the background, the more penetrating a noise can be. Natural sounds are usually less annoying than unnecessary or controllable sounds. For example, the sound of a tap dripping in the middle of the night can be more disturbing than the sound of falling rain. Symptoms of noise induced stress are sudden losses of temper, irritability, depression, aggression, hostility, and argumentative behavior.
Speech interference: Noise can interfere with speech. When the background noise level is fifty decibels, normal conversation can be easily carried with someone up to one meter away. Any more than that will cause a problem. Noise pollution can endanger life by obscuring shouts for help.
Sleep interference: Noise can wake people from sleep and keep them awake. Even if they are not ac