A lot of people, especially children, can’t seem to relax or fall asleep without at least some background noise – the so-called white noise. However, not all noise is soothing or comforting. Neighbors drilling upstairs is one of the worst ways to start your day. On top of this, there’s a reason why real estate near industrial districts and next to the airports go for merely a fraction of the price.
The name of this phenomenon is noise pollution, and there are several reasons why this term has an exclusively negative connotation. At the very least, it can be annoying and, in this way, diminish the quality of life in your household. However, the rabbit hole goes even deeper than that. According to some specialists, noise pollution actually has some negative long-term effects on your mind and body.
So, with that in mind and without further ado, here’s why noise pollution is so bad and why you need to avoid it whenever you can.
What’s the Difference Between White Noise and Noise Pollution?
Since both of these audio phenomena are background noise, what makes the difference? Why is the first one positive while the latter is regarded as one of the worst plights of every homeowner?
The first major difference worth noting is the fact that creating white noise is always a conscious choice. Namely, you decide to buy a white noise machine or play a video featuring white noise on your own device. Noise pollution, on the other hand, is always involuntary. On the other hand, you can have soundproof walls and ceilings to reduce its effect.
Second, numerous studies show that white noise helps people study, be more productive, relax and even fall asleep. This is the polar opposite of what studies have to say about noise pollution.
Lastly, there are a lot of instances in which people buy a white noise machine in order to block out environmental noise (noise pollution). In other words, not only is it opposite, but it also acts as a measure of combating it more effectively.
When choosing a good white noise machine, you should look for something with headphone connectivity, a sleep timer, volume and tone control, and non-repeating sounds.
One of the first serious repercussions of constant exposure to noise pollution is the development of all sorts of hearing issues. Why does this happen? Well, the simplest answer is that the loud noise damages cells and membranes in the cochlea.
While a lot of people dismiss hair in their ears as something unnecessary (or even harmful), the truth is that they do have a purpose. Their job is to detect sounds. People trim these hairs without any consequences because the trouble usually starts after about 50% of them are destroyed. Needless to say, this is exactly what noise pollution does.
The worst of it all is the fact that the hearing loss caused by noise pollution may continue even after the noise dies out. In the most severe of circumstances, the hearing loss caused this way can be something quite permanent.
The problem is that this goes past the ears. We all have our stressors, and since we’re evolutionarily conditioned to interpret stress as physical danger, our body tends to tense up when exposed to this sort of external stimulant.
Noise Pollution Is Bad for Your Heart
Previously, we’ve discussed the likelihood of hearing loss caused by noise pollution. Sadly, it doesn’t stop there. Noise is a psychological stressor, and since your psyche has an effect on physiological processes in your body, the risk of stroke is substantially higher with those suffering from constant environmental noise.
From a physiological standpoint, this type of stress can directly affect the endothelium, the inner lining of arteries, and blood vessels. In some scenarios, it causes serious inflammation of the area.
The effect of noise on your amygdala (which manages emotional responses) may cause your body to enter the fight-or-flight state. In this situation, all your secondary physiological processes are put temporarily on hold, and adrenaline is pumped into your body. This would be a one-time thing that your body would have enough time to recover from in normal circumstances. When the pressure is constant, things are far worse.
Previously, we’ve talked about having a home next to an airport or a factory. However, what happens if you’re working in one of these institutions. The truth is that it has both its upsides and downsides. The good thing is that you get to go home (your quiet home) after your shift. A quiet home is essential for your mental wellbeing. The problem with people who suffer this while at home is that they really have no place to go.
So, does this make the situation where you’re facing a lot of noise in your line of work easier to endure? Well, not necessarily! You see, working on a construction site can have some long-term negative effects on your health. Sure, most people immediately think about an injury caused by sharp objects, machinery, or trip and fall from a high place. The truth is that while all of these can be avoided, such a thing is harder with noise pollution.
Fortunately, there is a lot of PPE designed to cancel out all the noise. The key thing is to ensure that you’re provided with the necessary equipment, that the equipment is in good condition, and that you manage to strap it properly.
Your health is your own responsibility. Sure, you can’t always relocate someplace quieter, but even in these scenarios, you can get a white noise machine or invest in making your home soundproof. The thing is that in order to do so, you need to have the right motivation. In some cases, this comes down to knowing what’s at stake if you fail to do so. In the case of noise pollution, you need to know that you’re up against more than just an annoyance. Once you get this out of the way, things will start looking up.