According to Webster’s Dictionary, noise is defined as a sound of any kind or a clamor.
Noise pollution refers to sounds that are particularly loud, will disrupt a person’s concentration, and elevate levels of stress. Annoying sounds can include, but certainly not limited to, a barking dog, road traffic, aircraft sounds, and car alarms.
Noise is perceived both psychologically and physiologically. When we use our ears to hear noise, it is physiologically. Psychologically, we listen and absorb noise subconsciously throughout our body, and this is proven, because when a disturbing noise interrupts our task at hand, we naturally turn our attention to it.
Sound frequency refers to how high or low a tone is, and sound is measured in decibels (dB). To give you some perspective, a normal speaking, conversation is 60 dB, and a loud musical concert can exceed 120dB. It has been said, that when exposed to sounds of any type that are over 85 dB without protection, such as earmuffs or earplugs, it can be harmful. Noises above 100 dB include, but are not limited to, motorcycles, ATVs, chainsaws, snowmobiles, leaf blowers, musical concerts, sporting events (cheering crowds), and stock car races. Normal office noise is about 70 dB, and should not exceed 85 dBs
Noise pollution has been studied, and it was revealed that noise pollution has a negative effect, on both physical health and mental well-being. More specifically:
1.Productivity levels drop. Noise is distracting (documented research has proven this to be a fact). One study exposed young people to noise found at airports, and found that their long term memory was negatively affected, as well as their ability to read and comprehend. According to a another study, conducted at Cornell University, individuals that worked at least eight (8) hours a day in a noisy office environment, were less motivated and more stressed.
- Increased health risk. Sound pollution triggers the stress levels in one’s body. Due to this, chronic loud sounds have been linked to an increase in heart attacks, strokes, and elevated blood pressure. Excess noise, can and will cause damage to the brain, heart, and liver. In addition, loud noises will have the heart beating faster, which constricts blood vessels, and limits blood flow to vital organs. Also, hearing can be permanently damaged, due to noise pollution.
- Disrupts sleep. Quality of sleep is directly affected, due to excessive annoying noise. When regular sleep cycles are interrupted on a constant basis, chronic stress could occur. This could lower a person’s immune system, and in turn, make a person more vulnerable to all types of illnesses.
- Stress is severely caused by noise. Moods can shift from happy to angry, and/or frustrated in a matter of moments, due to annoying noises.
White noise, minimizes the negative effects of annoying noise by making sound. A white noise machine drowns out annoying noises, because the brain needs to focus on structured sound. For instance, when a personal computer first gets turned on, you will hear the cooling fan start up, but within a few seconds, that continuous type of white noise, virtually becomes invisible to your ears (but not your brain).
Sound masking is different than sound cancellation, as it is designed to treat the adjacent area, and not the source of the noise. An example would be, if you want to keep a conversation in one room private, you would use a white noise machine in the room where the conversation may be overhead, and not in the area where the conversation is taking place (point of origin).