It creates stress and stimulates aggression and other social behaviors. It causes headaches, makes you irritable, and can keep you from getting a good night’s sleep. It can raise your blood pressure and cause heart disease and hearing loss over time. Surely, this sounds like something that has to be dealt with. What is it? Noise.
Where are the ad campaigns informing people of the dangers of excessive noise? Where are the public service announcements aimed at educating youth and adults about the health effects of constant loud noise? They are rarely seen. The closest thing we see or hear are warnings and announcements aimed at youths who listen to loud music in headphones. It's time to start spreading the word.
Noise that is experienced by people who did not produce it is called second hand-noise. Like secondhand smoke, secondhand noise can have negative impacts on people without their consent. Exposure to secondhand noise occurs in many places such as homes, the workplace, restaurants and bars, on a city street, at a park, and many other places we frequent.
Some examples of secondhand noise include:
- An airplane flying over your house or place of residence
- Trains traveling near your home or workplace all day long
- Cars, trucks, tractor trailers, buses and motorcycles driving up and down the roads
- Construction workers using jack hammers or operating heavy equipment like bulldozers
- A constant humming noise of a neighbor’s loud HVAC unit running constantly
- A neighbor with a dog that barks constantly
- Noise coming from excessively loud car stereos
- Loud noise from small engine powered landscaping machines.
We experience noise in a number of ways. On some occasions, we can be both the cause and the victim of noise, such as when we are operating noisy appliances or equipment. There are also instances when we experience noise generated by others just as people experience second-hand smoke. While in both instances, noises are equally damaging, second-hand noise is more troubling because it has negative impacts on us but is put into the environment by others, without our consent. And it’s nearly impossible to avoid these days. While noise regulations worldwide have helped regulate the amount of noise that a person or machine can create at a given time of the day, most police departments seem to be unwilling or unable to respond to noise-related problems in a way that provides any measure of genuine or timely control. The amount of man-made noise in the environment is still a serious problem.
Let’s face it, eliminating secondhand noise is virtually impossible in the 21st century as things stand today. Even staying in your house or place of residence can’t keep secondhand noise out. It’s getting harder and harder to find quiet environments. While separating smokers from nonsmokers, cleaning the air, opening windows, and ventilating buildings can eliminate secondhand smoke exposure, it’s much more difficult with sound and noise. Unlike light waves, sound waves travel through walls of the places we live, work, and frequent. While it’s impossible to eliminate all noise in an environment, there are ways that you can mitigate the amount of entering walls of buildings.
More widespread use of sound mitigating materials in the structure of buildings at the construction phase would help give people a quieter place to escape too void of outside noises. Modern soundproofing materials such as Acoustiblok and Quietfiber for example, can reduce noise inside to a more comfortable level.