There’s nothing more annoying than a smoggy layer on the horizon obscuring those beautiful desert vistas we know and love so much – but another type of pollution is even more concerning, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Noise pollution is a growing health concern worldwide and can have significant negative impacts on our health.
What is Noise Pollution?
The WHO defines noise pollution as regular exposure to elevated sound levels that may lead to adverse effects on humans and other living organisms. When you are exposed to sounds greater than 85 decibels (dB) for longer than eight hours, you are at risk of suffering from hearing damage. Unfortunately, we live in a noisy world, so completely avoiding potentially hazardous noise sources is impossible.
Background noise is ever-present; after a while, we don’t even notice it any more. Even though it may not always be obvious, it still disrupts the natural rhythm of life and is responsible for the slow and steady destruction of the nerve cells in the cochlea that are instrumental in the hearing process.
Common sources of noise pollution you are likely to experience on a regular basis include:
- Barking dogs
- Lawn equipment
- Household appliances
- Construction (drilling, heavy machinery)
- Aircraft flying overhead
- Trains passing by
- Workplace sounds
- Loud music in or around commercial venues
- Industrial sounds (fans, generators, compressors)
- Household sounds (televisions, music)
Over time, exposure to these and other sounds can be damaging to your hearing and affect your health in other ways. The WHO labels noise pollution as a significant social and economic threat worldwide, one with far-reaching consequences for the population as a whole. People in Phoenix and Scottsdale are at risk of the following conditions related to noise pollution:
- Hearing loss
- Poor sleep
- Cardiovascular dysfunction
- Child development
- Psychological dysfunction
Tips for Preventing Hearing Loss from Noise Pollution
Just because noise is everywhere doesn’t mean there aren’t steps you can take to protect your ears from long-term damage. To lessen the effects of noise pollution, try the following:
- Wear earplugs whenever you are going to be exposed to noise levels exceeding 85 dB.
- Avoid using headphones for prolonged periods of time. If you do use them, keep the volume set at 60 percent of maximum and take frequent breaks to give your ears a rest.
- When possible, avoid jobs where you’ll regularly be exposed to hazardous noise levels.
- If possible, choose a residential area as far from heavy traffic or noisy industrial areas as you can find.
For additional tips on preventing hearing damage and other health hazards associated with noise pollution, talk to your Phoenix audiologist.