The Invisible Culprit: Noise Pollution And Its Negative Effects

Last updated on : May 18 2022

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The headache after sitting through loud construction sounds or when you come out of concerts isn’t just your imagination. As much as we can’t see it, noise affects us in more ways than we realize. 

It’s easier to understand pollution tangible to the naked eye. We see the floating debris on the water, the hazy gray smoke in the air, and the pile of junk on land. But what about sounds? 

Explaining Noise Pollution. 

As National Geographic puts it, noise pollution encompasses any “unwanted or disturbing sound” that disrupts one’s well-being – humans and animals alike. Sounds exceeding 85 decibels are potentially harmful. 

You might think that only thunderous, stress-inducing sounds pass off as noise pollutants. Nope. Many of our everyday encounters exceed 85 decibels. Examples include lawnmowers, traffic sounds, and construction sites. 

We no longer notice these noises, especially if you’ve lived in urban cities for a while. But that sudden uneasiness, headache, and sleep disturbance are not coincidental. 

Noise Pollution and Wildlife 

But these human examples above are only the tip of the iceberg. A lot of these city sounds are artificial. We even voluntarily go to rock concerts despite the exposure to loud noises. 

What about animals? Our ships, machinery, and sonic devices have been proven to disturb wildlife on land, water, and air. These noises interfere with their biological activities, communication, and reproduction. 

Effects of Noise Pollution 

We know that inhaling smoke causes respiratory problems and that consuming harmful chemicals can make us sick. However, with noise, we seldom correlate the discomfort we feel to the amount of sound exposure. 

Hearing Loss and Complications

If you’re often exposed to loud sounds for long periods, you may notice some problems with hearing in the long run. 

Of course, the risk is higher for those working on industrial sites, train stations, or those recording artists who listen to music all day long. 

And yes, this includes people who wear headphones for hours. While listening to music isn’t bad, direct music to your ears isn’t healthy either. 

Sleeping Problems 

Sitting on the bed.

People who live in urban cities are incredibly familiar with this. Even in the wee hours of the morning, the traffic and construction sounds seem endless. How often were you woken up by a loud beeping from a car outside? 

The accumulated stress from overexposure to noise can also cause sleep disturbances for some people. Although it won’t seem like a big deal, for now, the constant lack or poor quality of sleep affects your health and well-being. 

Physiological Diseases 

Noise pollution may cause actual illnesses such as hypertension. Stress can induce high blood pressure, leading to more critical health conditions. 

The causations aren’t direct, but it triggers many health problems that can potentially snowball into serious diseases. It’s best not to ignore these situations and consider some changes. 

Psychological Distress 

An invisible culprit and an “invisible” kind of distress aren’t good combinations. It’s easy for us to dismiss psychological effects, which is wrong.

Loud noises can trigger anxiety and other forms of emotional distress, interrupting our day-to-day activities and, as discussed, our sleeping cycles. 

We don’t even have to go far; the mere annoyance and irritation of dealing with unwanted sounds can immensely impact our daily performance. 

Minimizing the Negatives of Noise Pollution (As the Receiver) 

Let’s face it, as much as we want to, totally escaping noise is nearly impossible in this world we live in today. Especially with urbanization and technological advancements, there’s almost no way out. 

If total escape is not possible, regulation might be the answer. There are ways to control and minimize noise, ranging from minor tweaks to complete changes. 

Use Headphones Less.

White headphone

Headphones and earphones are specifically designed to direct the sound to you and not the entire room. There are good reasons to use them, so we’re not advocating getting rid of them. 

However, ensure that you’re only using headphones when needed. When it’s unnecessary, relieve your hearing by enjoying the quietness or playing music out loud. If unavoidable, set your volume as low as possible. 

As parents or guardians with children, we suggest regulating their usage, especially with the rampancy of online gaming. Studies showed that more children have hearing problems at a young age because of overexposure to loud, stimulating sounds. 

As the American Osteopathic Association puts it, “1 in 5 teens will experience some form of hearing loss.” This rate is a 30% increase compared to 20 years ago, and professionals see earphones as a likely source. 

Use Earplugs

We can’t avoid noise when it’s part of our job. At the very least, wear earplugs to minimize the effect of noise on your hearing. 

Earplugs are likewise helpful for people living in noisy areas, such as in the middle of a busy city or around a noisy neighborhood. It can help you sleep better or focus on your work. 

Though tempting, don’t always resort to noise-canceling headphones as it brings us back to the headphones argument above.

Improvise with Relaxing Sounds.

Try swapping those disturbances with more pleasant sounds that induce calmness and relaxation. Examples are the sound of rain, rustling leaves, and ocean waves. 

There’s also a rising appreciation for ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) sounds easily accessible online. 

File Noise Complaints 

Believe it or not, there are rules and regulations concerning noise. If you’re in the position to file a complaint or report to the authorities, do it. 

More often than not, landlords should help you regulate loud activities caused by neighbors or allow you to move to floors with less noise. 

Make Major Lifestyle Changes.

These minor changes can only go so far. As long as the stimulant is there, it’s difficult to entirely escape the adverse effects of noise pollution. 

If possible, consider significant changes such as moving to a more peaceful residential area or switching jobs. However, we understand that it’s not always realistic. 

Should it be impossible to uproot your lifestyle, for now, you can consider improving your situation with the small changes above but aim to make significant changes in the future. 

Remember, these are all worthy investments for your health and well-being. 

How To Minimize the Negatives of Noise Pollution (As the Contributor) 

As you can see, noise recipients don’t have a lot of room for adjustments. The primary control to minimize noise pollution lies in the contributors. 

We’re all on both sides of the coin; we are both receivers and contributors. So, why not help each other out by incorporating these changes? 

Upgrade Your Machines.

It’s not rare to wake up to your next-door neighbor mowing their lawns or your friends upstairs vacuuming their floors. Most of the loud machines are those with old, worn-out motors. 

Consider upgrading your machines with the quieter variations available in the market. There are now silent lawn mowing machines that you can easily buy in your local hardware store for a more relaxing mowing experience.

Lubricate or Improve Machinery

Complete upgrades can be expensive, that’s true. 

But don’t worry; minor improvements like adding lubricants or changing certain motor parts are more than enough to control the noise in most cases. 

Sound Proof Your Place

If you know that you produce a lot of sounds, such as making music or playing instruments, do everyone a favor and soundproof the room. 

It doesn’t only benefit others, but you can also freely do your work knowing that you’re not disturbing others. Imagine receiving noise complaints all the time–you won’t get anything done.

Follow the Noise Regulations

This solution is a given but often ignored, nonetheless. Your compound, community, or building has likely set regulations and limitations to follow. The easiest thing to do is to follow them. 

We understand that it may demand some financial dents when you swap out machines, but it’s a small price to pay for living in a people-filled community. 

Think of it as your way of helping your neighbor with an infant, the girl with bad anxiety across your house, and especially yourself. 

Plant More Trees

Rural and forest areas are not exempted from loud noises either. In fact, with hunting and wildlife activities, you’re also prone to disturbing sounds. 

Trees and other plants are known to be noise-absorbing and can help reduce 5-10 decibels from sounds. We already know the many benefits of planting more greens in our world, and yes, noise control is one of them. 

Why Should We Take Noise Pollution Seriously? 

Because we live in constant noise, we don’t understand the gravity of its effects. It’s also understandable since we can’t see noise. 

Moreover, the effects of noise pollution are not instantaneous. It takes a long time from the onset to fully notice the negative impact. 

The subtlety is dangerous. But it’s this seemingly invisible culprit that makes us think, “it’s not a big deal.” So, we continue to expose ourselves until it’s too late to reverse the effects. 

If we look at the bigger picture, it also leads to social and economic impacts when affected individuals fail to perform well because of the adversities they experience. Imagine if we, as a society, collectively underperform due to lack of sleep, hypertension, and anxiety. 

More than our daily lives, noise pollution also disturbs other parts of nature. It endangers our wildlife, scares sea creatures, and inhibits their ability to live as naturally as possible. It’s all the more unfair for them, whose existence we disrupt because of our human actions. 


Indeed, we can’t fully control noise. The world is too vast for us to regulate every produced sound, and it doesn’t hurt to enjoy loud music from time to time. 

But let’s not allow this invisible culprit to disturb us by doing the changes most accessible to us. Let’s help one another live a more peaceful life, have more improved well-being, and imagine how happier and healthier we will be.  

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