How to Protect Yourself From Noise Pollution

Does the sound of drilling at a construction site or a vacuum cleaner make you grit your teeth? Unfortunately, noise pollution occurs in all aspects of our lives (home, work, pleasure) — and it can be annoying as hell. 

While some sounds are easy to tune out, others are so intense they can cause mental and physical discomfort. Both short and long-term exposure to high-volume noise poses risks that may lead to chronic disease, child development issues, sleeping problems, and much more.

Fortunately, there are preventive measures you can adopt to eliminate or reduce your exposure to noise pollution. But first, let’s dive into noise pollution and what aspects of our lives it can affect.

person with hands over ears experiencing noise pollution

What is noise pollution?

Noise pollution, also known as sound pollution or environmental noise, is any undesirable environmental sound that affects a human’s or any other living organism’s health and well-being. For example, cars, trains, and construction sites are some common noise pollutants people may hear each day.

“Noise pollution, like light pollution, can be incredibly inconvenient and annoying, [and] it can also affect one’s day-to-day life,” says Ana Codallo, CTO of Key Opinion Leaders

Noise pollution intensity is calculated with decibels (dB) units. dB determines the sound pressure level or SPL of a specific sound. The average human can hear sounds between 0 to 140 dB, with the range of 120 to 140 dB being within the pain threshold. For example, a plane taking off over 300 feet away is 130 dB.  

Types of noise pollution

As mentioned before, we face several examples of noise pollution every day. Some sounds are significantly loud and cause discomfort to the listener, while others are more discrete but can harm a person’s overall health.

Other examples of noise pollution are:

  • Street traffic (i.e., cars, buses, pedestrians)
  • Construction sites using heavy machinery
  • Workplace sounds
  • Train stations
  • Household (i.e., vacuum cleaners, fans, washing machines)
  • Fireworks and firecrackers
  • Gunfire
  • Loud music

Health concerns 

Extensive exposure to noise pollution can take a toll on one’s health. From hearing loss to chronic disease, noise pollution plays a significant role in developing health conditions. 

A few health problems that may arise from noise pollution are:

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Anxiety
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Heightened stress levels
  • Loss of productivity
  • Memory impairment
  • Learning disabilities 

How to decrease noise pollution

While we may encounter noise pollution in almost every aspect of our lives, it doesn’t mean we have to endure the complications associated with the environmental issue. There are several ways in which you can minimize the effects of noise pollution to protect your health.

Here are a few tips for reducing noise pollution:

1. Use noise-canceling headphones

A popular method for reducing noise is noise-canceling headphones. These items are excellent preventive measures for people working at or near construction sites or industrial plants to reduce each area’s high volume.

“It (noise-canceling headphones) is necessary for industrial and construction employees,” says Beth Hawkes, RN, owner of Nurse Code. “The noise-canceling headphones effectively eliminate unwanted sound before it reaches the ears.” 

2. Soundproof your house

Soundproofing may be a great solution if you’re looking to reduce noise pollution in and around your home. However, for those not looking to place soundproof foam around their home, you can take a more decorative approach by adding paintings, curtains, and other decors.

“Adding curtains to windows, blankets, tapestries, paintings to walls, and carpets to floors will all help to reduce the noise inside the living space,” says Codallo. 

3. Play other sounds

Like listening to podcasts or white noise? When you feel discomfort from noise pollution, use alternative, pleasant sounds to tune them out.

“It would be beneficial to turn on music, podcasts, wellness apps, or white noise, at a low volume, for those who are looking to decrease the amount of noise pollution they are affected by,” says Codallo.

The bottom line: Noise pollution is an unfortunate circumstance we all face as we go about our daily lives. Consistent exposure to high-volume noises poses mild to severe threats to our health. Thankfully, preventive measures exist to help reduce our exposure to various noise pollutants. 

At Home Live

About Taneia Surles

Taneia is a public health professional and freelance writer specializing in health and wellness content. She currently works full-time in the healthcare administration field while freelancing part-time. She has a bachelor’s degree in Public Health & Minority Health and a master’s degree in Public health with a Health Behavior concentration. Taneia aspires to become a sexual health educator working with low-income and minority communities to improve their health literacy and form her health consulting business in the future. When she's not at work or freelancing, she enjoys playing with her pets, Gooby and Jynx, journaling, shopping, and watching true crime documentaries.