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Protect Yourself From Noise Pollution

Protect Yourself From Noise Pollution
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Noise can simply be defined as a loud, unpleasant, unexpected or undesired sound.

Sound becomes unwanted when it either interferes with normal activities such as sleeping and conversation, or when it disrupts or diminishes the quality of human or animal life. Noise must be considered a hazard to the health of people everywhere.

The decibel (abbreviated dB) is the unit used to measure the intensity of a sound, and a device known as the decibel meteré can be used to measure sound. It is used for noise level measurement and also in signals, electronics and communication. It also exists in form of apps for use on mobile devices. So, you can actually download it on your phone and other devices.

Protect Yourself From Noise Pollution
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Some common sounds and their decibel ratings include: Near total silence (0 dB), a whisper (15 dB), normal conversation (60 dB), a barking dog (65-110 dB, depending on the breed), car horn (110 dB), generator (depending on the capacity, can generate 65-130dB), gunshot or firecracker (140 dB).

Any sound above 85 dB can cause hearing loss, depending on the sound and length of exposure.

The impact of noise on the surrounding environment is often more difficult to recognise than is the case with chemical pollutants found in air or water, because noise is invisible. However, the effects of noise on our lives are very real.

It is a misconception that people can adjust to noise by ignoring it or “getting used to it.” The ear never closes and even responds to sound during sleep! The impact of noise on human health is a matter of great concern because it can result in the following clinical challenges:

Ear disorders: Hearing impairment due to noise pollution can either be temporary or permanent. When the sound level crosses the 70 dB mark, it becomes noise for the ear. Noise levels above 80 decibels produce damaging effects to the ear. When ear is exposed to extreme loud noise (above 100 decibels) for a considerable period of time, it can cause irreparable damage and lead to permanent hearing loss.

Cardiovascular issues: A noisy environment can be a source of heart related problems. Studies have shown that high intensity sound causes a dramatic rise in blood pressure as noise levels constrict the arteries, disrupting the blood flow. The heart rate (the number of heart beats per minute) also increases.

Sleep disturbances: Difficulty sleeping due to exposure to high decibel noise can deter your overall well-being. It is a known fact that noise, especially from your neighbour’s generator, can interrupt a good night’s sleep. People deprived of uninterrupted sleep show a sharp dip in their energy levels, which often results in extreme fatigue. This can considerably decrease a person’s ability to work efficiently.

Mental health problems: Constant noise in the vicinity can also trigger headaches, make people tense and anxious, and disturb emotional balance. Noise pollution does not affect humans alone; man-made noise pollution has made the earth an uncomfortable place for animals as well.

High-intensity sound induces fear in them, forcing them to abandon their habitat.

Intolerable noise levels can also decrease a cow’s capacity of milk production. These animals require a calm and relaxed environment to provide better milk yield. The ill-effects of noise are also evident on chickens in the form of a sharp drop in egg production. Stunted growth in chickens due to intense noise has also been observed.

Birds in urban areas which use their sharp hearing abilities to hunt prey are at loss due to intervention of man-made noise. This high noise levels can also negatively affect the breeding and feeding patterns of some animals. This is one of the reasons why certain species have become extinct.

In addition, birds that make sound at lower frequencies for communication bear maximum impact of the noise pollution. The high noise levels camouflage their sound, making it difficult for male birds to draw the attention of female birds. Some male birds tend to sing at a higher pitch during noise pollution. However, this change in vocalisation is far from melodious and seldom successfully attracts a receptive mate.

To bring down noise levels, one has to first identify the sources. Some tips to limit the noise include…

Controlling the volume of electronic appliances to moderate level, wearing ear protection devices like earmuffs while working in noisy conditions, properly maintaining and ensuring routine servicing of vehicles, generators and factory machines. Lack of maintenance will not only increase noise levels, but it will also decrease the efficiency of these machines.

In Nigeria, Lagos is the only state with a law to control noise pollution. The law says that during the day, the highest acceptable noise level is 65 decibel; in the evening, it is 45 decibel in residential areas. In industrial areas, it is between 80 and 90 decibel. The moment anyone exceeds those limits, they are polluting the environment and contravening the law.

It is the duty of every individual to protect their health. Guard against prolonged use of head set while listening to loud music and prevent exposing babies to noise at worship centres and social gatherings.

Hearing defects may not manifest in a day, but day by day, the ear drums are threatened by unregulated noise.

Have a great weekend.

Source: Punch

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