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Noise Pollution


By Sheila Ferguson

Today the World Health Organization (WHO) calls noise pollution an immediate health crisis. We often think of issues of optimal nutrition and exercise as the primary keys to staying healthy. However, we all must be on guard for continuous exposure to loud noises and disturbing sounds. You could be risking your health when you are either over-exposed or cannot protect yourself from noise pollution.

Presently, “tens of millions of Americans suffer from various adverse health outcomes due to noise exposure. The most common problems include both heart disease and hearing loss. Reducing environmental noise pollution is achievable if we all take responsibility for minimizing noise pollution exposure.” (WHO, 2022).

According to García (2001), “Noise pollution is unwanted sound.” In 1981, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated that nearly 100 million people in the United States (about 50% of the population) had annual exposure to high traffic noise that was high enough to harm health (Simpson & Bruce, 1981). However, despite the prevalence of exposure, noise has been given less attention historically than air, chemical, or radiological pollution.

Noise pollution is defined as any harmful level of noise from airplanes, industry, or nature. Noise pollution occurs when unwanted sounds enter the environment. The World Health Organization also defines noise above 65 decibels (dB) as noise pollution. Noise is harmful whenever it exceeds 75 decibels (dB) and is painful above 120 dB. To promote health, it is recommended that noise stays below 65 decibels. The following chart regarding levels of noise in decibels from www: webmd.com and Chris from Soundproofing Guide offers a guideline to help clarify what the various decibel levels mean relative to everyday sounds.

How Noise Pollution Hurts Us

Some health problems associated with noise pollution include psychological disorders, sleep disturbances, tinnitus/ringing in the ears, stress from ongoing annoyance, brain damage, hearing problems, cardiovascular disease, hearing problems, and communication issues. Relative to cardiovascular disease, most of us do not know that it can cause the hardening of the arteries and plaque on the arteries. It can also affect our pets and animals in the environment.

Key Sources of Noise Pollution

  • Urban planning is not in keeping with environmental safety.
  • Industrialization includes building more factory installations and more incoming traffic related to shipping and delivery.
  • Public transportation
  • Noise pollution from cars
  • Construction
  • Children
  • Events
  • Domestic appliances
  • Agriculture
  • Alarm systems; and
  • Storms and Rainfall


  1. Reduce sound in your space
  2. Turn off electronics
  3. Keep windows closed
  4. Mask noise
  5. Move when needed to other areas with lower levels of noise pollution
  6. Build a fence
  7. Install quiet spaces in the home or workspace
  8. Plant trees
  9. Use earplugs or headphones as needed
  10. Follow OSHA Safety guidelines that include:
  11. Be social and share the news with others