Noise & Its Effect on the Human Body

In this article, we’ll talk about the effects of noise on people, protective measures we can take, and research analysis on the subject. As technology progresses, the noise impact on humans tends to increase. Noise has a detrimental effect, causing harm to our bodies. The solution to this problem is to set standards for noise sources.

Our Sense of Hearing

To exist and function properly, a person needs information about the surrounding environment. All the information comes to the central nervous system through the senses. The senses include the vision, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. Here, we look at one of these senses, the sense of hearing. We will also find out how the parts of our body that enable hearing are affected by external stimuli and diseases.

Hearing is the ability to perceive sound, which are vibrations in the air. The organ of hearing is the ear. The human ear is able to recognize sounds with a frequency of 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz at an intensity of up to 140 dB. Sounds that affects the human body are called ‘noise.’ A noise source can be any process that causes local pressure changes or mechanical vibrations in solid, liquid, or gaseous mediums.

Prevalence of Noise in Modern Society

Due to urbanization, one of the main sources of noise in the city is transportation. The amount and intensity of traffic noise is constantly growing. The highest noise levels of 90-95 dB can be found on the main streets of large cities. The level of street noise is correlated with the density and speed of the traffic. It also depends on street and road layout, height and density of buildings, roadway cover, and green spaces. The noise generated on the roadway can also extend into the residential areas that people call home.

The noise levels in the neighborhoods located along the highways can reach 76.8 dB. In residential areas with open windows overlooking highways, it’s only 10-15 dB lower. The noise level also increases with the growth of cities. Over the last few years, the average noise level produced by transportation has increased by 12-14 dB. The intensity of noise has also increased in everyday life. That’s why this unfavorable nuisance has gained the attention of the leaders of our societies. The high level of noise in the urban environment causes a strain on the central nervous system. It also has a negative effect on the cardiovascular system. Residents of noisy areas are more likely to suffer from coronary heart disease, hypertension, and increased cholesterol in their blood. 

Sleep Disruption

Noise causes significant sleep disruption. Sleep becomes shallow, the person awakens feeling tired and headaches can also be common. Constant sleep deprivation leads to chronic fatigue. This can have serious consequences, such as mild neurosis, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.

Noise Thresholds & Acceptable Levels

The pain threshold is the minimum intensity of sound that causes pain. A noise level of 60 dB causes complaints, while 110-120 dB is considered to be the threshold of pain. 130 dB destroys the sensitive organs inside the ears, usually to a permanent degree. A noise level of 200 dB can be deadly (this level of noise will likely be caused by an explosion). When considering sound hygiene, the noise level is deemed acceptable to a person if it doesn’t cause disturbance or irritation. The effects of acceptable levels of noise over a long period of time shouldn’t cause disease or ailments. It is believed that an acceptable level of noise in the daytime is 55 dB. This level isn’t harmful to the hearing, even when the exposure is constant. An acceptable sleep noise level is considered to be up to 40 dB.

Sound Survey Results & Facts

  • After attending a music festival or prolonged time spent in a noisy company, 50% of young people reported feeling tired or had headaches.
  • 64.5% of respondents to a survey did not notice the city noise and do not feel irritated.
  • The same  percentage of students listen to music while doing homework.
  • At the same time, 71% of students claim that the noise created by their classmates prevents them from concentrating. (This difference is due to the mental adjustment to the source of the noise. We don’t notice the noise we make ourselves, while the ones created by others can be quite irritating.)
  • It’s a confirmed fact that 62.9% of respondents to the survey were annoyed when someone spoke loudly on public transportation.

Based on the results of the survey, we can see that some sounds, such as listening to music, are not considered irritating noises. The division into “unfavorable noise” and “favorable noise” is due to the mental adjustment we make to the source.

Conclusion

To sum up, we are always surrounded by different sounds, some favorable, some not. Every day, we’re surrounded by unfavorable noises. They can affect not only the ear, but the whole body. It’s possible to reduce the impact of noise on a person with the help of personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as through the development of standards for permissible noise levels.


About the Author

Roy Emerson is a technology enthusiast, a loving father of twins, a programmer in a custom software company, Editor in Chief of RestFAQ.com, a greedy reader, and a gardener.

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