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What is noise pollution and how to reduce it

07 January 2020

2020 is the year of sound. Sound plays a vital role in our life. However, we are living in an age where the increasing density of cities corresponds to high levels of noise pollution.

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Living in noisy cities  

But first, let’s start with the challenge, where it comes from and what impact it has. Hearing regularly sounds above 80 dB is not rare if you live in a big city. During the day, Mumbai and London can experience an average of 105 dB while Tokyo and Chicago can easily reach 95 dB.  A survey among citizens of the EU showed that 80% of respondents believed that noise affects their health, either to some or to a great extent (WHO,2018). Traffic, public transportations, workplaces, machinery, loud music, and electronic devices can massively affect people’s well-being.

Noise pollution, in fact, is responsible for several health problems such as stress, anxiety and hearing loss. In particular, stress can lead to high blood pressure and increase the risk of heart disease. Living in the city and being constantly surrounded by noises influences our social behaviours with consequences of social isolation and negative feelings like anger or frustration. For all these reasons is important to be aware of the noise impact and take safety measures for a proper sound reduction.

When sound becomes noise

In order to address noise pollution, it’s important to be aware of different sound levels that can damage our health and ability to concentrate and work. In addition to dB levels, the duration and frequency of exposure to noises need to be taken into account. It means that a sound that is not initially perceived as too loud may affect anyway our mental and physical condition after a certain period of time.

What are the dangerous decibel sounds levels in our daily life? First of all, it must be said that some studies have identified noises above 80 dB as responsible for aggressive behaviour and 140 dB as the initial stage of physical pain. An ambulance siren, for example, is 120 dB while popping a toy balloon is 154 dB. Anyway, alarm clock, city traffic, and even a hairdryer are considered moderate loud sounds with an average of 90 dB.

Video illustration, showing different levels of noise, pollution, graph, Rockfon

The graph illustrates levels of sound and noise in restaurants, and for how long we would need to be exposed to it for it to be harmful. Source: Oticon study 2018

So how do we reduce noise pollution?

Sometimes it’s not possible to remove the sources of noise pollution altogether. Acoustics solutions such as sound insulation or absorption are therefore the best way to reduce and control undesirable sounds. Health and Safety Executive (UK) recommends, among other methods, to include low noise emission elements during the design plans of buildings and to locate noisy machinery out of certain areas. Selecting soundproof ceilings such as acoustic solutions from Rockfon to diminish sound levels can significantly

  • Improve people's well-being
  • Increase productivity at work
  • Enhance learning in school
  • Reduce recovery time in hospital

At Rockfon we believe that good acoustics goes hand in hand with sustainable products and unique designs. So, reducing noise pollution corresponds to better well-being on multiple levels. The high-quality materials of our acoustic solutions and the expertise of our team ensure a comfortable environment for people in which they can create, focus, rest, heal and thrive.

Source: PUBLIC SILENCE by Architecten Van Mourik 

 

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