In busy cities, ongoing honking, construction, and overhead planes create widespread noise pollution, invisibly harming human health. The European Environment Agency links 12,000 premature deaths and 48,000 heart disease cases to noise. This is an adverse issue and needs to be dealt with. So, in this blog, we’ll explore various ways to reduce noise pollution in your home, workplace, school, roads, and the community.
Ways to Reduce Noise Pollution
Noise pollution is the term for unpleasant sounds that cause discomfort to the ears. It’s measured in decibels (dB), and sound levels over 100 dB can lead to permanent hearing loss. The primary causes of noise pollution are:
- Industrialization: The use of heavy machinery like generators, mills, and large exhaust fans during industrialization has caused an increase in noise pollution.
- Vehicles: The growing number of vehicles on the roads is another cause of noise pollution.
- Events: Weddings and public gatherings often use loudspeakers for music, contributing to unwanted noise in the neighborhood.
- Construction sites: Activities like mining and building construction also add to noise pollution.
Now that the causes are clear, let’s focus on the effective ways to reduce noise pollution.
Excessive noise isn’t only bothersome; it can lead to hearing loss, tiredness, and mental health issues. To reduce noise in your surroundings, focus on minimizing loud machine sounds both indoors and outdoors.
a) Use Soundproofing Measures – If you can’t stop the noise directly, try soundproofing your home to improve your sleep and reduce daytime noise. Instead of expensive soundproof building materials, consider affordable options like carpets and wall coverings that absorb and soften sounds. Budget-friendly soundproofing options are acoustic foam panels, hanging blankets, bookcases filled with books, shag, or flokati rugs for aesthetics and sound absorption.
b) Place Noisy Machines Away from Your Bedroom and Living Areas – Avoid placing the bed near a noisy furnace or AC. Keep constant noise away from sleeping and living areas. Use machines less to reduce noise. Turn off the AC, open windows, and tolerate more warmth for a quieter, more relaxing environment.
c) Practice Meditation to Cope with Noise – Sit still, close your eyes, and focus on deep breaths. Take 10 breaths, let go of worries, and ignore the surrounding noise. Meditate to deal with rural noise and relax.
d) Utilize Earplugs and Noise-Cancelling Headphones – They help to deal with daily noise. Earplugs are cost-effective and provide peaceful sleep. Noise-cancelling headphones are more expensive but worth it for peace and quiet.
g) Minimize Noise from Electronic Devices – Turn electrical devices off when not in use, use moderate volume settings, and consider using padding underneath noisy equipment like blenders. This also helps save on electricity costs.
h) Reduce Noise in Machinery with Absorbents and Regular Lubrication – Frequent lubrication and proper maintenance of machinery are also effective in reducing noise pollution and improving efficiency. Lubrication decreases friction between movable parts, contributing to noise reduction.
i) Use Cancelling or Masking Techniques – One way to reduce noise pollution is by canceling or masking unwanted sounds using calming sounds like wind chimes or fans. White noise machines can also be used for this purpose.
j) Use a Sound Camera to Detect Noise Leaks – It helps to find air leaks in doors, windows, and facades. It pinpoints the noise source and makes fixing the problem simple.
k) Live in Quiet Areas to Reduce Noise – Moving away from noisy areas like airports, train stations, industrial districts, and major highways can significantly reduce noise pollution in your life.
Noise is a major concern for employees in corporate offices, particularly in open-concept spaces where they work closely without much separation. If you also face this issue, you can use the following tips to reduce noise pollution in your office:
b) Purchase Sound Absorption Tiles or Panels – Try mineral wool or foam panels for soundproofing. Use in noisy areas to contain noise and in quiet spaces to reduce incoming noise. They are available in various sizes and shapes.
e) Use Noise to Manage Noise – In some cases, countering noise with ambient sounds can be effective. However, individual preferences should be considered. Talk to team members to understand their preferred working atmosphere. Some may still find these sounds distracting.
f) Create Loud Zones and Quiet Zones – To improve the acoustic environment, create distinct zones in the office for different activities and move the meeting space to a corner with sound absorption panels. Set up a communal meeting space away from individual work areas to encourage conversations elsewhere.
g) Install Movable Walls – They are an excellent choice for your open office space, as they offer both versatility and exceptional sound absorption. These panels, typically 6 to 10 feet tall, come with wheels or sliding discs, making them easy to move. They can enclose spaces and provide temporary separation for teams.
i) Explore Portable Pods or Booths for Soundproofing – You can buy mobile pods or booths for office use as they help contain noise or create a quiet area. They come in different sizes and can be used for taking calls or as meeting spaces.
Also, check out Sustainable Thermal and Sound Proofing Solution
j) Put Baffles in Your Ceilings – Baffles are ceiling panels that absorb upward-traveling noise without taking up walking or working space. Though pricier and require more effort to install, they are a great long-term solution for controlling low-impact noise.
k) Think About Sound-Friendly Flooring – Like ceilings, office floors can absorb or reflect sound. Using carpet is effective for absorbing sound, but many people don’t use it. Instead, bamboo or rubber flooring can improve acoustics. For laminate or tile floors, use absorption padding underneath.
l) Relocate to a Building with Improved Acoustics – Consider moving to a new office space when your lease ends for a more cost-effective option. But remember that setting up a new space also comes with expenses. Plan wisely for long-term goals.
The World Health Organization recommends that the noise level in a classroom should be below 35 decibels for optimal learning conditions. However, many classrooms today are louder. Reducing noise pollution can enhance communication and personalize learning. Teachers can use the following ways to reduce noise pollution in school:
a) Silence Machines and Devices – Consider sound output when evaluating school equipment to minimize distractions caused by the constant background noise created by technology devices in learning environments. Reduce classroom noise by prioritizing features for muting notifications and other sounds.
b) Use Microphones – Students need instruction to be 15–20 decibels louder than background noise for effective learning. A microphone can help the teacher’s voice stand out in the classroom and ensure a clear understanding of information.
c) Enhance Classroom Acoustics – To improve sound quality in classrooms, add rugs, curtains, and soft materials to walls. Tip sheets are a valuable resource for teachers to efficiently establish their own spaces in remote or hybrid formats.
d) Utilize an App – Apps help manage classroom noise levels with various visual displays like stoplights and smiley faces. Educators can select from a range of both paid and free apps to assist in managing classroom noise.
e) Distribute Headsets – Headsets improve students’ ability to hear instructions and technology, reducing frustration in school. Quality headsets with noise cancellation and comfort contribute to a better learning experience and help students distinguish between noise and educational content. Let’s explore reducing vehicle noise pollution.
Also See: 100 Fun and Interesting Recycling Facts
City streets can be noisy because of all the vehicles. To make your cities quieter, you can try a few things. The following points will explain how to reduce noise pollution on roads in cities:
a) Avoid Honking Your Car Horn Without Reason – Don’t honk unnecessarily at people on the road. Only use your horn, when necessary, like to signal your presence or prevent a crash. Driving politely like this improves city life.
b) Use Electric Vehicles – They are eco-friendly, quieter, and help reduce noise pollution and carbon emissions. Advancing technology and decreasing battery prices make them more affordable and accessible.
c) Maintain Your Vehicle Well – Fix your noisy car and outdoor/garden equipment promptly to prevent noise pollution in your neighborhood. Consider walking or biking instead of driving to reduce noise.
d) Put Noise Barriers or Soundwalls – They are helpful in blocking traffic noise. Sound walls tested in the US in the 1960s gained popularity in the 1970s due to environmental laws to block traffic noise.
f) Do Roadside Vegetation – Roadside vegetated borders may seem simple, but they are highly effective. Studies on the efficiency of this solution are advanced, showing that sometimes the best technology available is also the oldest.
g) Use High-Tech Bikes – Shared electric-assist bikes with automated docks and digitized features, like solar panel charging, make bicycles high-tech. They are silent, reducing noise pollution and decreasing average speeds to lower traffic noise and vehicle count.
Also See: Are Hybrid Bikes Electric?
h) Loud Vehicle Detection (LVD) – Quieter tires and road surfaces are costly and require regulations. Loud vehicle detection offers a more cost-effective solution. It identifies areas with high sound levels, allowing for targeted changes to reduce traffic noise.
i) Use Sound Activated Enforcement – Traffic noise monitoring can enforce rules using sound-activated cameras or muffler cameras to identify noisy vehicles and impose consequences. This helps reduce noise pollution and deters disruptive vehicle behavior in residential areas.
After learning how to reduce noise pollution caused by vehicles, let’s go through ways to make your community quiet.
A quieter community fosters a more serene and enjoyable environment for everyone. By following the tips below, you can help your community reduce noise pollution:
a) Lower Music Volume – Respect others’ music preferences and keep the noise level in check at home. If you want to play music with open windows, ensure your neighbors are okay with it. Be considerate when practicing loud instruments or having parties by informing neighbors in advance.
c) Look Up the Noise Pollution Laws in Your Area – Cities have noise control rules, including regulations for construction machinery and quiet periods. Community involvement can ensure compliance with these rules. Check with your state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Affairs to find the regulations in your area.
- Cross-Reference: Noise Code Guide Summary
d) Raise Your Voice Against Allowing Loud Motors Near Your Home – In big cities, noisy engines from vehicles can’t be avoided. However, in smaller communities, you might have a say in controlling their use. Consult your city council to address nighttime restrictions on noisy motors. In smaller communities, you can also talk to your neighbors and agree not to use loud motors during certain hours to help the whole neighborhood.
e) Join a Community Tree-Planting Project – Places with more trees are quieter because big, leafy trees can absorb noise. If your area lacks large trees, planting them along streets and between homes and noisy highways is a good way to reduce noise pollution in your area.
There are many adverse effects of noise pollution and some of them are mentioned below:
- Hypertension: It happens because of prolonged exposure to noise pollution, leading to higher blood pressure levels.
- Hearing loss: Continuous exposure to loud noises that surpass the ear’s tolerance can damage the eardrums, causing a loss of hearing.
- Sleeping disorders: Noise pollution disrupts sleep cycles, leading to irritation and discomfort. Lack of sleep can result in fatigue and low energy levels throughout the day, affecting daily activities.
- Cardiovascular issues: Normal individuals and those already dealing with heart-related problems may experience an increase in blood pressure, stress, and cardiovascular diseases due to noise pollution.
- Impacts pets and other Animals: Noise pollution is becoming widespread and poses a threat to biodiversity. Loud noises also impact pets and other animals, making them more aggressive if exposed for a long time.
- Threat to Marine life: Human-made sources can harm marine life by causing a fatal condition known as the Bends. This poses a long-term threat to aquatic species like dolphins, whales, fish, and others.
In conclusion, you can reduce sound pollution by promoting awareness and implementing soundproofing measures. However, individuals and authorities can collectively contribute to creating quieter and more peaceful environments by regulating noise-emitting activities and fostering community cooperation. For further insights into pollution-related topics, stay tuned.