The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) define noise pollution as a public health issue leading to adverse health effects. It is the unfriendly, annoying and unhealthy noise created by either people or technologies. Noise pollution is distractive and intrusive as well as mentally and physically painful. Thus, it can cause adverse health effects including headaches and high blood pressure among people exposed to annoying, distractive, and painful noises. The environmental pollution can also interfere with speech and hearing loss. Noise pollution also reduces mental health and productivity. Ultimately, it reduces peoples’ qualities of lives (CEHN 1). The report, therefore, will define and discuss noise pollution. Consequently, it will examine measures applicable in prevention and reduction of noise pollution.
Defining Noise Pollution
People listen to different types of sound as they undertake their day-to-day activities. For example, some people listen to music to relieve stress and curtail loneliness. Noise, however, is the unwanted, irritating, and stressful sounds that can even damage peoples’ hearing abilities. Noise pollution, therefore, originates from outdoor sources. The sources include road traffic and jet planes, garbage trucks, construction activities, and heating and air conditioning units. Noise pollution, therefore, is a slow and subtle killer originating from human and machine activities undertaken by people and machines especially in line with urbanization, modernization, and technological growth and development (CEHN 1).
Categories of Noise Pollution
The Noise and Statutory Act of 1993 defines noise as annoying and unhealthy sounds mainly from the streets. Street noise can originate from road traffic, military forces, and campaign demonstrations. Vehicles, loudspeakers, and burglar alarms are also forms of street noise polluting the environment. The Anti-Social Behavior Act of 2003 declares that night time noise also pollutes the environment. The Act of 2003 amended the Noise Act of 1996 to emphasize that local authorities are major contributors of night time noise pollution. The Act defines noise emitted by people and machines between 11.00 PM and 7.00 AM as annoying and distractive. The sources of night time noise, therefore, should be investigated and reasonable steps undertaken to ensure the dwellings are not experiencing noise pollution. A warning notice should be served to the people and organizations contributing to night time noise. Ignoring and failing to honor the notice should be followed by a fixed penalty notice in monetary terms and confiscation of the noise making machines (Environmental Protection 3).
Fireworks are also major contributors of noise pollution as they affect people and pets. As a result, the Fireworks Regulations of 2004 prohibit people less than eighteen years from possessing fireworks. More so, the regulations assert that fireworks should be handled by professionals. The professionals, however, should not use the fireworks between 11.00 PM and 7.00 AM except during special occasions such as New Year celebrations and Bonfire Nights (Environmental Protection 3).
The table below summarizes sources of noise (Singh and Davar 183).
Addressing Noise Pollution
Foremost, the source of noise should be tackled. For example, noise pollution within a residential community could be originating from jet planes if an airport is nearby. The residents, therefore, could be experiencing disturbances of rest and sleep especially at night. Consequently, they are likely to suffer from headaches and stress. To tackle to source of noise pollution, they can either write to the local authorities seeking for the airport to be moved to commercial regions. Conversely, they can install noise absorbing housing materials in their homes to reduce the amount of annoying noise seeping through the windows, doors, and walls (Singh and Davar 181).
Mediation is also an applicable way of dealing with noise pollution. Mediation is quicker than seeking legislations for the source of noise pollution to be moved relocated or closed down. For example, local authorities can provide people living near an airport with people providing mediation services. Conversely, the residents can complain directly to magistrates under section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act of 1990 or take civil actions. The complaints should be addressed legally ensuring noise pollution does not result to adverse physical and psychological health issues. With regard to neighborhood noise pollution, the Housing Act of 1996 asserts that social landlords should take actions against perpetrators of anti-social behavior. More so, the Crime and Disorder Ac of 1998 enables council authorities to issue anti-social behavior orders to sources of noise pollution. People and organizations likely to ignore or dishonor the orders cab face a prison sentence of up to five years (Jefferson 48).
Simple Measures to Reduce Noise Pollution
The amount of noise made by people is often regarded as negligible compared to the annoying and distractive sounds originating from machines in an industrial setting (Fong 183). Some sources of noise in a household, however, can cause discomfort to the neighbors and members of the family. As a result, people should site noisy households especially washing machines away from the walls. They should also perform noisy household activities during the day to avoid disturbing the neighbors’ sleep and rest. Households should also inform local authorities that they have an alarm system. More so, they should replace old and faulty burglar alarm systems and inform their neighbors in advance in case they plan to hold celebrations and parties. Consequently, the use of fireworks during the celebrations should be undertaken before 11.00 PM to keep the noise to the minimum (Environmental Protection 5).
Noise pollution emerging from construction sites can be also minimized. Noisy operations undertaken in a construction site can be attributed to road and building works as well as demolitions and dredging. The Control of Pollution Act is utilized to ensure construction sites strive to minimize noise pollution by setting noise limits depending on the character of a neighborhood. The departments should also apply for consents to undertake noisy operations. The consents, however, ought to include the terms of the notice to keep noise pollution to the minimum. The Environmental Protection Act, therefore, should be implemented in noisy work settings and construction sites to minimize noise pollution (CEHN 2).
The transport industry is a major contributor of noise pollution. The local authorities should, therefore, implement measures to reduce noise pollution on a prioritized basis depending on the harmful effects of the environmental pollution. For example, the authorities should map noise in densely populated regions especially in busy roads, railways, and airports. The noise maps can provide information applicable in introducing plans to manage noise pollution and prevent specified quiet areas from developing and embracing noise pollution. Controlling road traffic, however, can be difficult despite the noise bothering more than 40% of the population (Environmental Protection 7).
As a result, local authorities should direct private vehicles to be fitted with efficient exhaust silencers. The authorities can also implement general regulations ensuring road users are not making unnecessary noise and running engines unnecessarily. The use of horns should also be limited in particular roads. For example, vehicles passing by a residential area should avoid using horns. More so, private vehicles should not be fitted with bells, sirens and gongs as they make unnecessary noise contributing to environmental pollution. The use of horns coupled with slamming of car doors should also be discouraged especially in quiet residential areas. Servicing cars regular can also ensure they are do not squeal by ensuring the silencer is in good order and the vehicle is quiet and economical (Environmental Protection 7).
Noise pollution, therefore, is an environmental justice issue originating from people and machines. As a result, people, neighborhoods, cities, and licensing agencies should work together to either prevent or keep noise pollution on the minimum. For example, they should collaborate to ensure noisy activities are adjusted to minimize noise pollution. Conversely, they can group noisy activities and place them away from quiet areas such as schools, hospitals, and residential communities. Local authorities should also strive and ensure housing activities embrace installation of noise absorbent materials especially on the ceilings and walls. Subsequently, people residing in noisy areas should close windows and doors to minimize noise pollution. People should, therefore, embrace measures reducing noise pollution to prevent adverse health issues. They should also ensure young children grow and learn in safe and healthy environments. Ultimately, individuals, civil administrative agencies, and the government at large have a role to play in minimizing and preventing noise pollution.
Children’s Environmental Health Network (CEHN). Noise Pollution: Eco-Healthy Child Care. Washington D.C, Eco-Healthy Child Care Program Report, 2010.
Environmental Protection. Noise Pollution: Working for a Cleaner, Quieter, Healthier World. Environmental Protection Program, 2008.
Fong, Jack. Making Operative Concepts from Murray Schafer’s Soundscapes Typology: A Qualitative and Comparative Analysis of Noise Pollution in Bangkok, Thailand and Los Angeles, California. Urban Studies, vol. 53, no. 1, 2016, pp. 173-192.
Jefferson, Catrice. Noise Pollution. United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2013.
Singh, Narendra and Davar Subhash. Noise Pollution-Sources, Effects and Control. Journal of Human Ecology, vol. 16, No. 3, 2004, pp. 181-187.