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What is Health and Noise Pollution?

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Noise-pollution – is the presence in the environment of noise or vibrations, whatever the source or acoustic emitter that origine, involving discomfort , risk, or damage to the people for the development of their activities or goods of any nature, or that causes significant effects on the atmosphere. Noise is a particular case of sound, in this case uninvited, annoying, or harmful.

Sound, and noise, is a wave that spreads through the air, reaches our ears, and produces a sensation: we hear it. Its occurrence characterizes its occurrence, its sound pressure level (conversationally its energy, intensity, or volume ), and its duration.

The unit used to amount it is the (dB). As it is not the same to be uncovered for more or less time, the Equal Noise Level (Lq, Leq) is used, an index or average value of decibels that weigh the sound pressure and time we are exposed to it. Thus we find, for example, Ld (equivalent daytime noise, 12 hours), Le (equal evening or evening noise, 4 hours), Ln (nighttime noise, 8 hours) or Lden (daytime, afternoon, night noise, which integrates 24 hours of exposure).

Noise-pollution And Health

Eco-friendly noise has a significant impact on human health. Sound pollution is a serious problem of public health that goes far beyond the nuisance generated by noise and which often are not aware.

The WHO points out that noise pollution is the second most damaging environmental factor for health in Europe, after poor air quality.

But recent studies indicate that noise has a health impact similar to that of chemical air pollution.

Noise can cause hearing effects (deafness, tinnitus) when it is of great intensity and damages our hearing. But exposure to lower levels for long periods can cause numerous non-auditory effects such as stress, anxiety, sleep changes.

Reduced moot performance, cardiovascular, respiratory, and metabolic effects (diabetes, obesity), low birth weight, prematurity, and infant mortality, and exacerbations of degenerative neurological diseases.

One to five people in Europe are exposed to traffic noise higher than what the World Health Organization. The report shows that environmental noise, particularly that due to road traffic, remains a major environmental problem affecting both the health and well-being of millions of people in Europe.

Ten things you should know about Noise-pollution

1. From 65 decibels, lower the volume

The noise level is measured in decibels  (dB). The limit recommended as tolerable by the  WHO   is 65 decibels during the day and 55 at night. If this cap is exceeded, health problems begin.

In Spain, this limit is exceeded, which is confirmed by a  study by the La Caixa Foundation. This report indicates that almost 60% of the Spanish population suffers from sound levels above 65 decibels.

2. Traffic, the main source of noise pollution

Motor vehicles (cars, motorcycles, airplanes …) are the main source of noise pollution. The WHO estimates that traffic noise alone harms the health of at least a third of Europeans.

According to the study   ” Noise pollution in our cities, “motor vehicles cause 80% noise pollution. Industrial activity represents 10%, rail traffic 6% and leisure around 4%.

3. Victims of noise

Noise is an invisible threat. It is present in our daily life (at work, on the street, and even in our own home). Several studies show a direct relationship between excess noise and increased disease. After air pollution, acoustics is the second cause of environmental origin that causes alterations in health.

According to the WHO, among the 340 million adults registered in Western Europe in 2001, Europeans lost 1.6 million years of healthy life due to this type of pollution.

4. Diseases caused by noise

The harmful effects of noise on health are scientifically proven and published in agency reports with the WHO. Some of those problems are:

–  Hearing problems:  noises (between 90 decibels or more) can cause hearing loss or ringing in the ears.

–  Psychological problems:  irritability, stress, communication problems, anxiety, and even aggressiveness.

–  Physiological problems:  increased heart and respiratory rate and blood pressure.

–  Sleep and rest disorders:  lack of attention and learning, daytime sleepiness, fatigue, and poor performance.

5. What are noise maps?

The noise maps are cartographic representations of the levels of noise in a given area during a given period. They assist as the basis for drawing up action plans to prevent and reduce environmental noise

These strategic maps help to identify the most conflictive areas in Spain, classified into four large groups: population agglomerations, road axes, railway axes, and large airports. In the case of the urban of Madrid, it is possible to consult these data daily by  zone.

6. Increase in hospital admissions

According to data from the “Noise-pollution and Health” study, in noisy areas, for every decibel that exceeds the 65 decibel threshold, hospital admissions increase by 5.3%.

Above the threshold mentioned above, the human body activates nervous hormonal responses and causes a rise in plasma pressure and heart rate, which can lead to an increased risk of heart attacks.

7. Much noise and few measures

We Spaniards have a reputation for being loud. Spain is the country in Europe with the highest noise index and the second in the world, after Japan, according to a report by the Organization for European Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Spain has its own  Noise Law, as well as different local and regional regulations, which are sometimes little respected.

Despite the facts that there is a high degree of permissiveness regarding noise and excess volume, there are more and more people who complain. Most of these complaints are for noise at night.

8. For making Noise-pollution , you also go to jail

Spain was the first republic in Europe to issue a criminal sentence for noise pollution. It happened in 2006, and the owner of a restaurant in Barcelona was sentence to four years in prison.

In our country, various platforms and associations of people affected against noise have proliferated. One of them is  Peacram  (State Platform of Associations Against Noise and Annoying Activities) which calls for greater efficiency in applying the different laws and regulations.

As it appears on its website, its fight is not only against noise pollution but also against pessimism, the feeling of powerlessness, and the conformism of many citizens who.

Fed up with the situation, have sometimes been forced to look for a individual solution: sell off your house and go elsewhere if your financial level allows it.

9. Animals also suffer from noise

Not only does noise affect human beings.

but it also has a negative influence on nature, altering the habitat of certain animals and birds

Many animals possess an extremely sharp sense of hearing, necessary for their survival as a species. Therefore, noise pollution is a problem for them.

For example, certain varieties of bats cannot hunt because they become disoriented due to this type of pollution.

The marine fauna also suffers the consequences of the Noise-pollution generated by human activities; Studies carried out by the  Laboratory of Bioacoustic Applications (LAB)  of the Polytechnic University of Catalonia indicate this.

10. Day without noise

On April 25 of each year, International Noise Awareness Day is celebrating around the world. With this celebration, the authorities try to sensitize the population of the effects of noise on health and of the existing preventive measures to avoid it.

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