When we think of factors that can damage our health, the usual suspects are unhealthy foods, alcohol or drugs or a sedentary lifestyle. Whether in large ways like daily exercise or small ways like skipping dessert, most people try to maintain their health. One area that gets overlooked, however, is noise pollution. We’ve all been warned about listening to loud music and modern technology has built-in technology to limit how loud you can listen to music. But noise pollution isn’t limited to just music. Depending on where you live, you are surrounded and being affected by noise pollution daily. Here are 10 ways that noise pollution can be harmful to your health.
1. Disrupts Memory
When you’re cramming for a test or just trying to get your day’s tasks organized, music can sometimes help. A catchy beat from the radio can get stuck in your head, too. Some people use music to help mute other background noises. But this constant noise can actually damage your ability to remember bits of information.
2. Disturbs Children’s Education
Depending on their age, it’s sometimes difficult for children to focus on their schoolwork. Classroom environments can sometimes be extremely noisy with talking or even from just lectures. Add into that the technology to show videos or movies and it becomes even louder. There can be developmental and academic delays that stem from constant noise interruption
3. Heart Damage
You might not consider your heart as being at risk from noise pollution, but it is. Extreme or unending noise pollution can increase your heart rate. This happens because noise can trigger stress and the release of hormones like noradrenaline and cortisol. These hormones, over extended periods of time, can lead to such diseases as heart failure or stroke.
4. Decrease Productivity
If your work environment has more than a constant hum of sound, there’s a strong chance that you get less work done. An open workspace means that you’re hearing every conversation happening around you and can’t focus on your own tasks. And even trying to get your work done, noise pollution from cell phones or computers can be distracting.
5. Hearing Loss
This one is easy to believe and people likely make effort to avoid this. But hearing loss is a common result of suffering noise pollution. The hearing loss can be temporary and caused by situational and non-continuous exposure, like being at a concert or a construction area.
6. Exposure to Other Pollution
It’s rare that you’ll only encounter noise pollution by itself. Construction sites, blast zones and busy highways typically also have high levels of air pollution, too. This means that along with the harm done to your cardiovascular system, your lungs are also at risk.
7. Reduce Self-Care
Most self-care tips suggest at least one form of a quiet, relaxing activity. Whether you’re trying meditation or just a return to nature, being in low volume areas can help you feel better. On the other hand, being in a chronically noisy environment triggers the mind and brain to do less in terms of self-care. That’s why it’s easier to lose good posture in a loud setting.
8. Increased Annoyance
Excess noise pollution can lead to poor mood and feelings of irritability. This comes from the stress of trying, and failing, to drown out the surrounding noises. This can happen from continuous noises, like discussions between coworkers, or even impulse noises like a car backfiring.
9. Trouble Communicating
Verbal communication is reliant on those speaking being able to hear one another. If an area is too noisy, you may find yourself repeating your words or struggling to hear someone else’s. Doing this can lead to troubled perception of speech and limit your ability to communicate properly.
10. Diminished Sleep
Being the victim of noise pollution can change how and when you sleep. It can also affect the quality of what sleep you do get. Over time, a person’s sensitivity to sound increases. Human ears can detect a type of sound called infrasound. Infrasound can create feelings of anxiety and fear, making it harder to relax or sleep.
Sometimes being aware of the dangers of noise pollution is enough to make changes to correct it. There are multiple ways to reduce the effect of noise pollution in your life. You can add noise-cancelling buffers to your home, like stronger insulation or windows. If possible, try moving to a quieter, more suburban or rural area away from highways and airports.
Try drowning out the damage-inducing harsher noises with pink noise, which is ambient and soothing sounds like steady rain or a gentle wind. It’s important to be actively aware of just how much noise is surrounding you, regardless of where you are. From garden care to loud music, you can protect yourself from the dangers of noise pollution.