Many people know that loud noise can damage your hearing, potentially causing lifelong hearing loss, but many are not as sure of the many sources of that damage. For instance, while many might wear hearing protection when working in a construction zone, they may not be as vigilant when in their own home. The issue is that noise can be loud just about anywhere, even when you are sitting on your own front porch. It is important to know what constitutes noise pollution, and what steps you can take to minimize noise in your home.
How Loud is Too Loud
Sounds can be beautiful and even relaxing. The sounds of birds chirping and water rushing down a creek can cause calm throughout the body. A wind chime out our window can lull us to sleep and our favorite song may lift our spirits and even release endorphins, throughout our body. However, when sound pass a certain threshold, they become too loud to listen to safely. At work you can simply wear hearing protection or take some distance. But what do you do if those sounds are in your own neighborhood, just outside your own window or even coming from your own home?!
The volume of noise is measured in decibels and any decibel over 85dB can cause lasting hearing loss. It’s not just the level of exposure but the length of time. For instance, it takes 8 hours of constant exposure to 85dB for damage to start to occur. However at 95dB, it only takes 50 minuets! At 105dB hearing damage can occur in just 15 minuets.
Noise Pollution and the Stress Hormone
While the human ear can withstand sounds under 85 decibels indefinitely without suffering significant hearing damage, constant exposure to sounds 75dB and higher can cause the body to release cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone, used in fight or flight response. In a real emergency It can give a person a feeling of adrenaline which it needs to deal with a high stress situation. When loud noise in or nearby your home is constantly causing you to release cortisol it can cause health issues over time.
Your body needs time to rest and when you are constantly stressed due to noise pollution it can lead to anxiety, depression, digestive issues, headaches, heart disease, hypertension, stroke, insomnia, concentration issues as well as memory problems. According to the World Health Organization, roughly 3 percent of ischemic heart disease in Europe can be attributed to long-term exposure to traffic noise. Meanwhile separate studies have found that growing up in heavy noise pollution has an extremely severe effects on child development, such as childhood acquisition of language.
Sources of Noise Pollution in Your Home
Though the sound level above which damage can occur is widely recognized as 85 dB (decibels), the sound threshold for damage is technically lower over an extended amount of time. For a 24-hour period of exposure, the EPA recommends a decibel limit of just 55 dB. This is the average decibel range of a normal conversation- meanwhile, the average dishwasher or washing machine is 70. The world is getting louder and louder, and cities are the center of it all. If you live in an urban area, you can be subjected to construction sites in your own back yard, ambulances, fire trucks and police sirens, music from neighbors and the constant roar of traffic. Even so, those of us living in the suburbs aren’t free from the roar of noise pollution. The sounds of leaf blowers and mowers fill the airs most of the year.
Industrial activity, construction, airport noise, and traffic sounds are the primary sources of noise pollution, however unwanted sound can come from all sorts of places. Some of the most common sources of neighborhood noise include:
- – Traffic sounds from highways and busy roads
- – Living near a music venue, night club or neighbor’s music
- – Construction sites with heavy machinery
- – Airport traffic passing overhead
- – Living next to a barking dog
- – Lawn mowers, leaf blowers,
- – Living near an active train track
- – Living near a fire or police station
How to defend yourself against noise pollution
You can always move but a lot of us love our busy neighborhoods. However, there are ways to minimize noise in your home. But up heavy curtains to insulate your windows. Carpets can help too to dampen noise. If you can grow tall trees around your yard to block out sound. Sometimes a tall fence can help as well. If you suspect that the noise in your life has caused a hearing loss, don’t let it go unaddressed. Schedule a hearing exam with us today.