Indoor and Noise Pollution Thesis

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Indoor Noise Pollution

Noise pollution is an endemic part of out modern urban and industrial world. However, indoor noise pollution is often not discussed with the same level of concern and importance as other forms of pollution. The issue of noise pollution has become more important with the growth and development of the modern urban, industrial environment; where the levels and type of noise have tended to increase, often to detrimental effect. As one commentator succinctly summarizes the contemporary thinking on this subject:

Noise has always been an environmental problem for man. It is hardly surprising then that it has become an issue in our modern society where cars and aircraft, machines and people, and the technology of communication, all contribute to noise levels.

(Noise Pollution: State of Jersey)

As this paper will attempt to show, research on the affects of indoor pollution can have severe and long -- term implications for human health and activity -- especially with regard to the indoor working and home environment.

1.2. Background

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The serious study of indoor noise pollution has been motivated by research into the effects of our increasingly complex industrial urban environment, where noise from applications and machines in the home and at work has been dramatically amplified over the last few decades. Noise is no longer seen by many as only a slight irritation but is "… seen as something which can pollute the environment where we work or live, when it is too loud, persistent or intrusive." (Noise Pollution: State of Jersey).

Thesis on Indoor and Noise Pollution Assignment

In brief, the history of efforts to control noise pollution begins in 1970 with the establishment of the Office of Noise Abatement and Control (ONAC), by Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). (Shapiro, 1993) the task of this body was to, "…study noise and its effects on public health and welfare and submit a report for further legislation." (Shapiro, 1993) This resulted in a report on excessive noise levels and led to the Noise Control Act of 1972. However, this legislation was not extensive and "…took no action on four (power lawn mowers, rock drills, pavement breakers, and truck-mounted refrigeration units). (Shapiro, 1993) the legislation and ONAC also ceased to function effectively after 1981, mainly due to budgetary constraints during the Reagan era. Consequently, there was an emphasis on local administration and localized containment of noise pollution. However the Noise Control Act or the Quiet Communities Act was not repealed and this is on ongoing issue. (Shapiro, 1993)

Another aspect that is evident from the literature is that not enough research has been done on this subject. This is an important factor as, "The control of environmental noise has been hampered by insufficient knowledge of its effects on humans…" (Noise Pollution: State of Jersey) There has been an increasing awareness among many environmentalists and health experts that, " Noise may not seem as harmful as the contamination of air or water, but it is a pollution problem that affects human health and can contribute to a general deterioration of environmental quality." (Noise Pollution)

2. Methodology

The methodology that was applied in this paper was discursive research and analysis of the literature and data on the subject obtained for a number of different sources. The most up-to-date information on this topic was gleaned from various online databases and Web sites. These were vetted for authenticity and provided some interesting and contemporary overviews of the problematics of indoor noise pollution. Offline journal articles were also consulted and the scientific and technological aspects of indoor noise pollution were taken into account.

3. Sources of noise pollution

Sources of both indoor as well as outdoor noise pollution can emanate for a variety of different sources. Indoor noise pollution is usually associated with communications technologies such a radio and television as well as other technologies and instruments that have become part of the modern home and office environment.

The have been a number of studies on the different sources of indoor noise and how they affect the environment. For example, in urban areas the EPA has stated that factory workers face a "…24-hour average sound level of 87 dB, office workers 70 dB, school children 77 dB, and homemakers 67 dB. Suburbanites were judged to be exposed to equal or slightly lower dB levels." (Shapiro, 1993)

These are only averages and most people will usually be exposed to much higher levels of noise; for instance, the National Institute of Health has determined that exposure to sound levels above 85 decibels for eight hours per day will result in permanent hearing loss. (Shapiro, 1993)

4. Impact of noise pollution

A clear-cut and simple definition of noise pollution is difficult to determine, as noise level tolerance and the response to types of noise affect people differently. In other words, the difference between positive sound and negative 'noise' is very subjective and personal. Despite these variables, there are certain levels at which sound becomes noise pollution, which can be detrimental to human health and well-being. "… some very harmful effects can be caused by exposure to high sound levels. These effects can range in severity from being extremely annoying to being extremely painful and hazardous." (Noise Pollution)

As one pundit notes, 'Noise can not only be annoying but also damaging to health, and is increasing with economic development' (Noise Pollution: State of Jersey) it is a well -- known fact that sound has the potential to destroy and damage human hearing and negatively affect health. This is evidenced from the fact that a sonic boom can break windows. Research has shown that"…Shearing forces caused by any sound have an impact on the stems of the hair cells of the basilar membrane of the cochlea (the inner ear), and if excessive these forces can cause cell death. "(Noise Pollution: State of Jersey) Therefore, when sound is excessive and reaches a level when it can be described as pollution, in can physically damage the human sense of hearing. Studies estimate that about 28 million people in the United States are "…afflicted with permanent hearing loss, and 10 million of these impairments, ranging from mild to profound, are due to noise, according to a 1990 report by the National Institutes of Health." (Shapiro, 1993)

However, noise can also be dangerous in other ways besides affecting physical hearing. "Many citizens, especially urban dwellers, face a cacophony of loud noises in their residences, neighborhoods, workplaces, and communities. This almost ubiquitous din -- noise pollution -- can lead to hearing loss and possibly other physical and psychological problems." (Shapiro, 1993)

This view refers to the "nonauditory effects" of noise. (Wilensky, 2001, p. 15) Wilensky (2001) goes on to discuss these and other effects of noise pollution, with special reference to the connection between exposure to noise among children and reading ability. Research has found that "Children chronically exposed to noise from airports or road traffic, even at levels that pose no danger to hearing, have shown deficits in their ability to read. "(Wilensky, 2001, p. 15)

Noise pollution has also been found to affect aspects of memory in children. Studies indicate that children exposed to chronically high noise levels also have problems with long-term memory -- which in turn is related to reading an ability. An interesting theory in this regard is that children chronically exposed to noise "…may develop an adaptive strategy in which they learn to tune out noise. This tuning-out process can become nondiscriminate and result in a delay in language acquisition." (Wilensky, 2001, p. 15)

Noise pollution is a significant element in the modern working environment. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established a maximum allowable noise exposure level of 85 dB for an eight-hour period. However,

…workers in agriculture, construction, oil and gas refining, and mining are not covered by the occupational standard, or, they operate under less rigorous standards. Overall, approximately 25% of the industrialized workforce -- more than 6 million men and women -- continue to be exposed to hazardous noise.

(Shapiro, 1993)

5. Controlling noise pollution

There are a number of ways in which noise pollution can be controlled. The first and most obvious way is to reduce the source of the noise. Secondly one can block the noise and also devise methods to protect the individual who is affected by the noise. For example, one can finds means of reducing environmental noise by methods such as removing, covering or shielding the source of the noise.

Other practical measures involve reducing the volume of nosicein the home. "…one should strictly control the volume and on and off timers of household appliances and other audio devices, especially the use of the high frequency stereos whose volume must be limited within 70 decibels.

(How to Stay Healthy amid Indoor Noise Pollution)

A method that is often used to control noise in the home or office is the use of double glazing. Steel doors can also be effective in noise reduction and insulating against excessive indoor and outdoor noise.

Steel doors prove to… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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