Noise pollution is becoming a growing problem. Fueled by growing populations and industrial and technological development, the world is a much noisier place to live. While most of us learn to cope with the noise, scientists and health experts warn of the health risks associated with this growing noise pollution problem.
What’s causing the rise in noise pollution?
Experts warn that noise pollution worldwide is becoming a more serious and pervasive problem which only promises to get worse. Surges in population growth, urbanization, industrialization and development continue to add to the noise pollution problem with increased use of transportation such as automobiles, trains and air planes contributing the most to noise pollution.
What are the health risks associated with noise pollution?
Scientists have been studying the effects of noise on individuals and their health for decades and the results have been numerous. In September of 2006, one researcher found over 5,000 citations on the adverse health effects of noise in a search of the National Library of Medicine data base. One of the most notable studies published in 2013 found a link between noise pollution and an increased risk of heart disease. Another study, which looked at the correlation between exposure to aircraft noise and hospital admission for heart disease, found that people who lived near airports have a significantly higher risk of hospitalization for heart disease. Scientists have determined that in addition to heart disease, exposure to noise pollution can lead to other serious health conditions including:
- High blood Pressure - Stress resulting from exposure to noise pollution can significantly raise blood pressure.
- Sleep Disturbance - Noise pollution can often disrupt a person’s sleep cycle leading to cognitive impairment, memory problems, irritability and increased stress.
- Tinnitus - Also known as ringing in the ear, Tinnitus is associated with noise induced hearing loss. Scientists also report that the number of Tinnitus cases is on the rise.
How can you reduce noise pollution in your home?
While there is little most can do to help eliminate or reduce noise pollution outside the home, there are a number of things homeowners can do to help reduce noise pollution within their home. Noise pollution bleeds into your home through walls, floors, ceilings, doors and windows. In order to cut noise pollution, homeowners simply need to dampen or absorb sound waves from outside. Many home builders have begun incorporating noise-blocking materials into newly constructed homes as more and more areas have begun implementing noise-blocking requirements. Homes built without these noise-blocking materials can still block a good portion of outdoor noise pollution by adding sound absorbing surfaces to their homes such as:
- Acoustic panels - Covering hard walls and ceilings with soft materials that will absorb sound instead of reflect it can go a long way in reducing noise pollution. Acoustic panels can take a number of forms, from artistic cloth covered squares to canvas paintings and artwork. Covering a wall with a thick set of drapes is another way to help absorb unwanted noise.
- Carpets, Rugs and Padding - Homeowners with hard surfaced floors such as tile, hardwood or concrete should use rugs in conjunction with sound absorbing padding to help reduced noise in their home. Homeowners with carpeting can replace the carpet padding with the same sound absorbing padding to make the carpets in their home even more effective at reducing noise.
- Floating Hardwood Flooring - Floating hardwood floors are installed with a gap between the hardwood and the subfloor. This space helps to dampen sound waves, acting as a kind of noise insulation.
- Solid Wood Core Doors and Door Seals - Most builders use hollow core doors in construction in order to save money. These doors, while cost effective, are terrible at blocking sound. Replacing interior doors with solid wood core doors and installing an inexpensive door seal kit can significantly reduce how far sound waves from noise pollution can travel within your home.
- High Efficiency Windows - Today’s high efficiency vinyl replacement windows are designed to prevent the loss of energy through the glass and seals. One of the unexpected benefits of these energy saving technologies is that they are also very effective at blocking outdoor noise pollution from entering your home. Best of all, they can save you thousands on your heating and cooling costs at the same time.
- Draperies - In addition to high efficiency vinyl replacement windows, installing draperies can also help to reduce outdoor noise pollution entering your home. Traditional materials that are heavier, such as velvet or wool, tend to have the best sound absorbing properties. Manufacturers have also developed a wide variety of special sound-absorbing fabrics that can help block unwanted noise while still allowing in some natural light.