In a New Yorker article, David Owen describes a man with hyperacusis—a hearing disorder that makes ordinary sounds unbearable because of an increased sensitivity to normal environmental sound that the majority of us take for granted . In this man’s case, he winces at the crumpling of a food wrapper, and suffers from disturbing echoes during normal conversations. It is known that hyperacusis can come from the exposure to loud noises over a long period of time. There is currently no known cure for it.
While hyperacusis is a rare condition, it is just one of many effects of noise pollution. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) noise can cause other short- and long-term problems, like sleep disturbance, cardiovascular and psychophysiological issues, poorer work and school performance, and changes in social behavior.
We should be concerned because noise surrounds us everyday, making us susceptible to any of these adverse effects. Noise pollution is said to be the second largest environmental cause of health problems, just after air pollution. Yet, many people take little precaution, and noise remains an “underestimated threat.”
How can we go about this rising public-health crisis?
What is Noise?
Noise has been defined as “unwanted sound.” Generally, people have differing thresholds for sound. The sound of children playing may be enjoyment to a parent, but a nuisance to the neighbor. “One man’s noise is another man’s music,” as one saying goes.
But even if sound tolerance differs from person to person, experts like WHO, US Environmental Protection Agency, and HealthLinkBC agree that our ears should only take sounds below 70–85 decibels (dB). Sounds that go beyond that can damage our hearing.
Noise Pollution: A Silent Suspect
Noise pollution is the regular exposure to these extreme sound levels. It has grown rampant as we have industrialized as a society. Many sounds that go beyond the recommended 70–85 dB are everyday sounds from our modernized world: heavy traffic and noisy restaurants (80–89 dB), motorcycles (96–100 dB), sports crowds (120–129 dB), and sirens (140 dB). In this regard, many cities become aural dumpsites. “If you could see what you hear,” says noise policy expert Les Blomborg, “it would look like piles and piles of McDonald’s wrappers, just thrown out the window as we go driving down the road.”
Because noise pollution is ingrained into modernity, we go about our days disregarding or forgetting that we’re surrounded by an environmental hazard. This is what makes noise a silent suspect. It slowly takes a toll on our health, and we only realize it when it’s too late.
Peace and Quiet Starts at Home
Noise doesn’t have to be beyond your control. Even in an increasingly urban world, it’s possible to adapt and protect yourself from noise pollution.
While it’s ideal to develop adequate noise regulations and encourage proper noise etiquette, an immediate way to manage sound levels is by investing in acoustic solutions. And the best place to start is at home.
Noiseless helps equip your home with high-quality noise-reduction interiors. If this is your first time exploring our website, we invite you to browse through our wide selection of panels and room kits.
We might not be able to stop the many noises from coming into our lives—but with Noiseless, they don’t have to linger. Come try our products and hear the difference.