Noise Pollution: What can you do to help with this growing problem?

by Scott Middleton on March 28, 2014

Living in Boston, one is constantly aware of the pollution in the city environment.  Trash littering the streets and cars and buses emitting fumes into the air are the norm.  With the negative impacts of pollution, there are constant efforts made to keep the city clean.  However, one type of pollution does not immediately come to mind: noise pollution.  Noise pollution is prominent in urban environments where noise levels are often at an uncomfortable level.  In fact, an estimated 138 million Americans are exposed to noise that they report as at an uncomfortable or disruptive level every day, and 87% of those affected endure noise that could permanently damage their hearing (Nadakavukaren, 2011).  Noise pollution is often a major complaint of city dwellers, yet many people do not know too much about it.

Sources of noise pollution are in abundance and, in today’s society, constantly multiplying.  Cars, buses, and motorcycles are constantly producing noise on city streets, and trains and airplanes contribute as well.  Noise pollution is even becoming significant in less urban areas with increasing traffic levels and the use of home appliances and motorized yard tools (Nadakavukaren, 2011).  Many Americans deal with noise pollution in their work environments as well, such as the disruptive noise produced by machinery and equipment.  The modern lifestyle leads to greater noise production than in past years.  Ultimately, the human population has increased, and greater population density generally means more noise (Nadakavukaren, 2011).

The amplitude, or loudness, of noise is often measured in decibels (Nadakavukaren, 2011).  For each 10-decibel increase, there is a doubling of loudness (Blomberg, 2014).  With prolonged or repeated exposure to sounds over 80 decibels, permanent damage can occur, causing eventual loss or partial loss of hearing (Blomberg, 2014).  For reference, the average conversation is about 60 decibels, and a lawn mower is about 80 decibels (Blomberg, 2014).  Thus, it is not too difficult in today’s world to be in an environment that can be damaging to one’s hearing over time.

Noise polution

Despite the increasing noise levels in most communities, one can take steps to protect themselves from noise pollution.  When performing any activity louder than 80 decibels, such as mowing a lawn, wear ear protection such as earplugs or earmuffs (Blomberg, 2014).  Additionally, make sure to always wear ear protection when shooting firearms (Blomberg, 2014).  Going to only a small number of events such as concerts can help as well (Blomberg, 2014).  Although technology is often a cause of noise pollution, it can also act as a solution to air pollution.  For example, rather than using more common gasoline-powered lawn equipment, one can opt to use electrical equipment (Blomberg, 2014).  This same choice can be made when it comes to cars.  Buy electric or hybrid vehicles if at all possible (Blomberg, 2014).  As far as noise inside the home, homes can be soundproofed to some extent.  Laminated glass for windows and soundproof Sheetrock and insulation can be installed (Blomberg, 2014).  Although this may be costly, it can greatly decrease noise pollution within one’s home.  If one cannot afford to soundproof their home, simply living in a quiet neighborhood is a solution.

Ultimately, noise pollution is a growing problem in the modern world.  Noise is all around us, so much so that we have become accustomed to it.  However, this noise is often damaging to our ears, and excess exposure to noise above 80 decibels can result in permanent hearing loss.  If the proper steps are taken, noise pollution can be greatly reduced, and its negative effects on health greatly diminished.


Blomberg, L. (2014). What can i do to protect myself from noise pollution?. Retrieved from

Nadakavukaren, A. (2011). Our global environment: A health perspective. Prospect

Heights, IL: Waveland Press, Inc

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