Noise Pollution

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Noise pollution

A Boeing 747-400 passes close to houses shortly before landing at London Heathrow Airport

Noise pollution (or environmental noise) is displeasing human-, animal- or machine-created sound that disrupts the activity or balance of human or animal life. A common form of noise pollution is from transportation, principally motor vehicles. The word noise

comes from the Latin word noxia meaning "injury" or "hurt".

The source of most noise worldwide is transportation systems, motor vehicle noise, but also including aircraft noise and rail noise. Poor urban planning may give rise to noise pollution, since side-by-side industrial and residential buildings can result in noise pollution in the residential area.

Other sources are car alarms, office equipment, factory machinery, construction work, grounds keeping equipment, barking dogs, appliances, power tools, lighting hum, audio entertainment systems, loudspeakers and noisy people.

Human health effects

Noise health effects are both health and behavioral in nature. The unwanted sound is called noise. This unwanted sound can damage physiological and psychological health. Noise pollution can cause annoyance and aggression, hypertension, high stress levels,

tinnitus, hearing loss, sleep disturbances, and other harmful effects. Furthermore, stress and hypertension are the leading causes to health problems, whereas tinnitus can lead to forgetfulness, severe depression and at times panic attacks.

Chronic exposure to noise may cause noise-induced hearing loss. Older males exposed to significant occupational noise demonstrate significantly reduced hearing sensitivity than their non-exposed peers, though differences in hearing sensitivity decrease with time and the two groups are indistinguishable by age 79. A comparison of Maabantribesmen, who were insignificantly exposed to transportation or industrial noise, to a typical U.S.

population showed that chronic exposure to moderately high levels of environmental noise contributes to hearing loss.


High noise levels can contribute to cardiovascular effects and exposure to moderately high levels during a single eight hour period causes a statistical rise in blood pressure of five to ten points and an increase in stress and vasoconstriction leading to the increased blood pressure noted above as well as to increased incidence of coronary artery disease. Noise pollution is also a cause of annoyance. A 2005 study by Spanish researchers found that in urban areas households are willing to pay approximately four Euros per decibel per year for noise reduction.

Environmental effects

Noise can have a detrimental effect on animals by causing stress, increasing risk of mortality by changing the delicate balance in predator/prey detection and avoidance, and by interfering with their use of sounds in communication especially in relation to

reproduction and in navigation. Acoustic overexposure can lead to temporary or permanent loss of hearing.

An impact of noise on animal life is the reduction of usable habitat that noisy areas may cause, which in the case of endangered species may be part of the path to extinction. One of the best known cases of damage caused by noise pollution is the death of certain species of beached whales, brought on by the loud sound of military sonar.

Noise also makes species communicate louder, which is called Lombard vocal response. Scientists and researchers have conducted experiments that show whales' song length is longer when submarine-detectors are on. If creatures don't "speak" loud enough, their voice will be masked by anthropogenic sounds. These unheard voices might be warnings, finding of prey, or preparations of net-bubbling. When one species begins speaking louder, it will mask other species' voice, causing the whole ecosystem to eventually speak louder.

European Robins living in urban environments are more likely to sing at night in places with high levels of noise pollution during the day, suggesting that they sing at night because it is quieter, and their message can propagate through the environment more clearly. Interestingly, the same study showed that daytime noise was a stronger predictor of nocturnal singing than night-time Light pollution, to which the phenomenon is often attributed.

Zebra finches become less faithful to their partners when exposed to traffic noise. This could alter a population's evolutionary trajectory by selecting traits, sapping resources normally devoted to other activities and thus lead to profound genetic and evolutionary consequences.


The sound tube in Melbourne, Australia, designed to reduce roadway noise without detracting from the area's aesthetics.

Technology to mitigate or remove noise can be applied as follows:

There are a variety of strategies for mitigating roadway noise including: use of noise barriers, limitation of vehicle speeds, alteration of roadway surface texture, limitation of

heavy vehicles, use of traffic controls that smooth vehicle flow to reduce braking and acceleration, and tire design. An important factor in applying these strategies is a

computer model for roadway noise, that is capable of addressing local topography,

meteorology, traffic operations and hypothetical mitigation. Costs of building-in

mitigation can be modest, provided these solutions are sought in the planning stage of a roadway project.

Aircraft noise can be reduced to some extent by design of quieter jet engines, which was pursued vigorously in the 1970s and 1980s. This strategy has brought limited but

noticeable reduction of urban sound levels. Reconsideration of operations, such as altering flight paths and time of day runway use, have demonstrated benefits for residential populations near airports. FAA sponsored residential retrofit (insulation) programs initiated in the 1970s has also enjoyed success in reducing interior residential

noise in thousands of residences across the United States.

Exposure of workers to Industrial noise has been addressed since the 1930s. Changes include redesign of industrial equipment, shock mounting assemblies and physical barriers in the workplace.

Legal status

Governments up until the 1970s viewed noise as a "nuisance" rather than an

environmental problem. In the United States there are federal standards for highway and aircraft noise; states and local governments typically have very specific statutes on

building codes, urban planning and roadway development. In Canada and the EU there are few national, provincial, or state laws that protect against noise.

Noise laws and ordinances vary widely among municipalities and indeed do not even exist in some cities. An ordinance may contain a general prohibition against making noise that is a nuisance, or it may set out specific guidelines for the level of noise allowable at certain times of the day and for certain activities.


Dr. Paul Herman wrote the first comprehensive noise codes in 1975 for the City of Portland Oregon with funding from the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and HUD (Housing and Urban Development). The Portland Noise Code became the basis for most other ordinances for major US and Canadian metropolitan regions. [1]

Most city ordinances prohibit sound above a threshold intensity from trespassing over property line at night, typically between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., and during the day restricts it to a higher sound level; however, enforcement is uneven. Many municipalities do not follow up on complaints. Even where a municipality has an enforcement office, it may only be willing to issue warnings, since taking offenders to court is expensive.

The notable exception to this rule is the City of Portland Oregon which has instituted an aggressive protection for its citizens with fines reaching as high at $5000 per infraction, with the ability to cite a responsible noise violator multiple times in a single day.

Many conflicts over noise pollution are handled by negotiation between the emitter and the receiver. Escalation procedures vary by country, and may include action in

conjunction with local authorities, in particular the police. Noise pollution often persists because only five to ten percent of people affected by noise will lodge a formal

complaint. Many people are not aware of their legal right to quiet and do not know how to register a complaint.

Sources of noise

The overarching cause of most noise worldwide is generated by transportation systems, principally motor vehicle noise, but also including aircraft noise and rail noise. Hybrid vehicles for road use are the first widely sold automobiles in 100 years to achieve significant noise source reduction. Poor urban planning may also give rise to noise pollution, since juxtaposition of industrial to residential land uses, for example, often results in adverse consequences for the residential acoustic environment.

Besides transportation noise, other prominent sources are office equipment, factory machinery, appliances, power tools, lighting hum and audio entertainment systems. With the popularity of digital audio player devices, individuals in a noisy area might increase the volume in order to drown out ambient sounds. Construction equipment also produces noise pollution.

Noise from recreational off-highway vehicles (OHVs) is becoming a serious problem in rural areas. ATVs, also known as quads or four wheelers, have increased in popularity and are joining the traditional two wheeled dirt motorcycles for off-road riding.

The noise from ATV machines is quite different from that of the traditional dirt bike. The ATVs have large bore, four stroke engines that produce a loud throaty growl that will carry further due to the lower frequencies involved. The traditional two stroke engines on dirt bikes have gotten larger and, while they have higher frequencies, they still can


propagate the sound for a mile or more. The noise produced by these vehicles is particularly disturbing due to the wide variations in frequency and volume.

Recreational off-road vehicles are generally not required to be registered and the control of the noise they emit is absent in most communities. However, there is a growing awareness that operation of these machines can seriously degrade the quality of life of those within earshot of the noise and some communities have enacted regulations, either by imposing limits on the sound or through land use laws. Rider organizations are also beginning to recognize the problem and are enlightening members as to future restrictions on riding if noise is not curtailed.

Principal noise health effects are both health and behavioral in nature. The following discussion refers to sound levels that would be present within 30 to 150 meters from a moderately busy highway.


The mechanism for chronic exposure to noise leading to hearing loss is well established. The elevated sound levels cause trauma to the cochlear structure in the inner ear, which gives rise to irreversible hearing loss. The pinna (visible portion of the human ear) combined with the middle ear amplifies sound levels by a factor of 20 when sound reaches the inner ear. In Rosen's seminal work on serious health effects regarding hearing loss and coronary artery disease, one of his findings derived from tracking Maaban tribesmen, who were insignificantly exposed to transportation or industrial noise. This population was systematically compared by cohort group to a typical U.S. population. The findings proved that aging is an almost insignificant cause of hearing loss, which instead is associated with chronic exposure to moderately high levels of environmental noise.

Cardiovascular health

High noise levels can contribute to Cardiovascular effects and exposure to moderately high (e.g. above 70 dBA) during a single eight hour period causes a statistical rise in

blood pressure of five to ten mmHg; a clear and measurable increase in stress[1]; and

vasoconstriction leading to the increased blood pressure noted above as well as to increased incidence of coronary artery disease.


Though it pales in comparison to the health effects noted above, noise pollution constitutes a significant factor of annoyance and distraction in modern artificial environments:


1. The meaning listeners attribute to the sound influences annoyance, so that, if listeners dislike the noise content, they are annoyed.

2. If the sound causes activity interference, noise is more likely to annoy (for example, sleep disturbance)

3. If listeners feel they can control the noise source, the less likely the noise will be annoying.

4. If listeners believe that the noise is subject to third party control, including police, but control has failed, they are more annoyed.

5. The inherent unpleasantness of the sound causes annoyance. What is music to one is noise to another.

6. Contextual sound. If the sound is appropriate for the activity it is in context. If one is at a race track the noise is in context and the psychological effects are absent. If one is at an outdoor picnic the race track noise will produce adverse psychological and physical effects.

A 2005 study by Spanish researchers found that in urban areas households are willing to pay approximately four euros per decibel per year for noise reduction[2].


Noise pollution can also be harmful to animals. High noise levels may interfere with the

natural cycles of animals, including feeding behavior, breeding rituals and migration

paths. The most significant impact of noise to animal life is the systematic reduction of usable habitat, which in the case of endangered species may be an important part of the path to extinction. Perhaps the most sensational damage caused by noise pollution is the death of certain species of beaked whales, brought on by the extremely loud (up to 200

decibels) sound of military SONAR.

Cause and Effects of Noise Pollution


No one on earth can escape the sounds of noise- an unwanted, disturbing sound that causes a No one on earth can escape the sounds of noise- an unwanted, disturbing sound that causes a nuisance in the eye of the beholder. Noise is a disturbance to the human environment that is escalating at such a high rate that it will become a major threat to the quality of human lives. In the past thirty years, noise in all areas, especially in urban areas, have been increasing rapidly. There are numerous effects on the human

environment due to the increase in noise pollution. In the following paper, the cause and effects of noise pollution will be presented in some detail. Slowly, insensibly, we seem to accept noise and the physiological and psychological deterioration that accompanies it as


an inevitable part of our lives. Although we attempt to set standards for some of the most major sources of noise, we often are unable to monitor them. Major sources of noise can be airplanes at takeoff and landing, and a truck just off the assembly line, yet we seem accept and enjoy countless other sounds, from hard rock music to loud Harley Davidson motor cycles. The following areas will be investigated in some detail; adolescent

education, neural-effects, sleep, hearing damage, occupational environment, transportation, and physiological effects.


Almost everyone has had one experience of being temporarily "deafened" by a loud noise. This "deafness" in not permanent, although it is often accompanied by a ringing in the ears, and one can hear another person if he raises his voice. Likewise, normal hearing comes back within a few hours at most. This sort of partial hearing loss is called

Temporary Threshold Shift (TTS) (Bugliarello, et al., 1976). A TTS may be experienced after firing a gun or after a long drive in the car with the windows open. It may not be considered that if exposure to this type of loud noise at a rate of eight hours a day, five days a week can is a threat to develop permanent hearing loss. This type of exposure to noise does not have to be as loud as a gun being fired; it can be as simple as a person shouting across the room. The type of hearing loss is any degree from partial to complete hearing loss. This loss, usually, is permanent and is not satisfactorily corrected by any devices such as, hearing aids. The loss is caused by the destruction of the delicate hair cells and their auditory nerve connections in the Organ of Corti, which is contained in the cochlea (Bugliarello, et al., 1976). Every exposure to loud noise destroys some cells, but prolonged exposure damages a larger amount of cells, and ultimately collapses the Organ of Corti, which causes deafness.

Most of society is now aware that noise can damage hearing. However, short of a threat that disaster would overtake the human race if nothing is done about noise, it is unlikely that many people today would become strongly motivated to do something about the problem. Yet, the evidence about the ill effects of noise does not allow for complacency or neglect. For instance, researchers working with children with hearing disorders are constantly reminded of the crucial importance of hearing to children. In the early years the child cannot learn to speak without special training if he has enough hearing loss to interfere effectively with the hearing of words in context (Bugliarello, et al., 1976). In this respect, there is a clear need for parents to protect their children’s hearing as they try to protect their eyesight. If no steps are taken to lessen the effects of noise, we may expect a significant percentage of future generations to have hearing damage. It would be difficult to predict the total outcome if total population would suffer hearing loss.

Conceivably, the loss could even be detrimental to our survival if it were ever necessary for us to be able to hear high frequencies. Colavita has consistently been unable to find among university students in his classes any who could hear 20 kHz, although the classical results of Fletcher and Munson show 20 kHz as an audible frequency (Fletcher, 1953).


There are two types of hearing loss: conductive and sensorineural (see fig.1 for anatomy of the ear). In conductive deafness sound-pressure waves never reach the cochlea, most often as a consequence of a ruptured eardrum or a defect in the ossicles of the middle ear (Bugliarello, et al., 1976). The three bones form a system of levers linked together, hammer pushing anvil, anvil-pushing stirrup. Working together, the bones amplify the force of sound vibrations. Taken together, the bones double, often treble the force of the vibrations reaching the eardrum (Bugliarello, et al., 1976).

Mitigation of potentially harmful amplification occurs via muscles of the middle ear. These muscles act as safety device protection the ear against excessive vibrations from very loud noises, very much like an automatic damper or volume control.

When jarring sounds with their rapid vibrations strike the eardrum; the muscles twist the bones slightly, allowing the stirrup to rotate in a different direction. With this directional shift, less force is transmitted to the inner ear: less, not all (Bugliarello, et al., 1976). The human ear is a delicate and fragile anatomical structure on the other hand it’s a fairly powerful physical force. These muscles act quickly but not always as in examples of when the ear catches the sound of gun being shot unexpectedly. The muscles of the ear were relaxed and were unprepared for such a blast, because of this damage was done. Conductive hearing loss can be minimized, even overcome by use of the familiar hearing aids. The most common is worn over the mastoid bond behind the pinna. It picks up sound waves and transmits them through the skull to the cochlea.

Sensorineural hearing loss, the most common form in the United States, occurs as a result of advancing age as well as exposure to loud noises. In both instances there is a

disruption of the organ of Corti. The organ serves two functions: converting mechanical energy to electrical and dispatching to the brain a coded version of the original sound with information bout frequency, intensity, and timbre. The hair cells of the organ of Corti send their electrochemical signals into the central nervous system, where the signals are picked up by thousands of auditory nerve fibers and transmitted to the brain. It is the decoding of all the information that enables a person to distinguish the unique ant separate sounds of a violin, trumpet, and clarinet, even all three are playing the same note.

The organ of corti, a gelatinous mass, is on of the best protected parts of the body, encased as it is within the cochlea which in turn is deeply embedded in the temporal bone, perhaps the hardest of the 206 bones (Bugliarello, et al., 1976). None the less, loud noise can damage the hair cells and the auditory nerve, producing at times, depending on the type of noise, sudden and often total deafness.

Sustained noise over a period of time can also engender sensorineural deafness in the form of gradual losses in hearing. This is the most common loss in teenagers today listening to loud rock music (Bugliarello, et al., 1976).


Noise Pollution

Noise is probably the most frequently forgotten of the environmental pollutants, yet its effects can be many and far-reaching. Millions of people on all continents are exposed to unhealthy levels of noise. Perhaps 150 million US citizens live in areas where the daily average noise levels exceed the US Environmental Protection Agency's safe noise level of an average of 55 decibels. What is a truly safe level of noise is controversial; levels of between 55 and 65 dB have been used for planning purposes in the USA and have been called "acceptable". In Hong Kong over a million people live in even noisier


Sources of Noise Pollution

The sources of noise pollution vary. In some places noise from construction projects predominates, while in others it is vehicular traffic or noise from airports. Other sources include the noise in occupational settings or even the noise of simultaneous

conversations. It also seems from a number of studies that intermittent noise is more of a problem than noise of a similar intensity which is constant.

Effects of Noise Pollution

Noise pollution affects nearly every aspect of life and probably has damaging physical effects as well. The best-studied and best-defined effect on physical health is the effect of noise on hearing. The research results are clear: loud or sustained noise can damage hearing. The source of the noise is not very important; it can be a pile driver or rock music. What is important is that it can have a lasting impact.

Noise pollution also impacts people's sleep. It can result in mood problems and adversely affect job performance. (See our section on insomnia for more information on the effects of disturbed sleep and steps to take to improve insomnia.)

Several research studies suggest that noise can cause high blood pressure. Others say that psychiatric diseases can be caused by noise. Some of these studies are controversial and are contested by other researchers because so many variables such as age, overall state of health, diet, smoking and drinking habits, socioeconomic factors, and other sources of environmental and social stress must also be taken into account.

It is clear, however, that noise, even though a "non-specific stressor", does cause a physical response. It elicits the same responses as a perceived physical threat would produce: it activates the nervous system, causes the muscles to tense and the heart rate and respiratory rate to increase and prepares the body to fight or to run away. This response-called the "fight or flight" response--underlies all responses to stress.


not completely understood. Being continuously under stress is something like sitting on the edge of your chair or waiting for the other shoe to drop. Your body isn't quite sure what will happen next or how to respond, and that state constant confusion has been implicated in the development of a number of diseases.

It is also important to remember that people who sense that they have some control over what happens in their lives are impacted less strongly by stressors than those who feel they have no control, and noise is something over which we have very little control. (See our section on stress for more information about these important problems.)

Noise affects us in another significant way: people exposed to noise feel a greater sense of frustration and annoyance than people whose environment is not as noisy. Annoyance is the expression of the negative feelings experienced when one's activities or the

enjoyment of one's surroundings are disrupted. Annoyance can have a major impact on the quality of life and is generally a variable examined when studying the impact of noise.

In addition to the other environmental pollutants, noise can affect not only our moods but also our physical well being, and, just like water and air pollution, must be subject to greater study and more stringent controls.

How to lower the pollution

There are some things you can do to help yourself while governments get around to tightening the standards for noise pollution, though:

--You can use air conditioning to allow you to keep windows closed during the noisiest times of the day. This is of course only an interim solution, since air conditioning uses more electricity which raises your energy costs and also requires more power plants which in turn create more air or other forms of pollution. Furthermore, when rooms are closed up indoor air pollution becomes a problem. But it can be a good short-term solution.

--You can buy small noise-canceling devices which sample the frequencies of sound and create other sound waves which in essence collide with the noxious sounds and batter them into other, less disturbing sounds. These devices are relatively new and have not been proven to be fully effective, though.

--You can use other sound-generating devices such as stereo systems, which cover up some of the more disturbing sounds with more pleasurable ones. This a short-term solution, however, since the underlying sounds are still present.

--You can learn some of the techniques described in our section on Stress to lessen the impact unpleasant sounds may have on you. When you are more relaxed in general, big


annoyances become little annoyances and may disappear altogether. When you learn to truly relax, you may find that sounds which were once of great concern simply fade away into the background.

--And of course, if none of the other suggestions works, you can become active in your community to work with your local authorities to devise solutions to the problem of noise pollution which may be uniquely suited to you and to the place you live, making life wherever you may be better for everyone.



All of us are constantly exposed to sound. Those like the twittering of birds, the rustling of leaves, the gentle lapping of waves are natural sounds that would strike a responsive chord in most of us. But when even pleasant sounds become too loud, they become unwanted noise. Sound levels are measured in decibels (dB). It is a unit for expressing the relative intensity of sound on a scale from zero (for the average least perceptible sound) to about 130 for the average pain level.

Harmful effects of Noise:-

Noise is harmful. Damage caused by noise can range from bursting of eardrum,

permanent hearing loss (in a recent survey 80% of Traffic Police in Pune were found to be deaf), cardiac and cardiovascular changes, stress, fatigue, lack of concentration, deterioration in motor and psychomotor functions, nausea, disturbance of sleep, headaches, insomnia, and loss of appetite and much other damage is caused. Pregnant women exposed to high noise levels may be at risk. Harmful effects are there even if you don’t feel you are being disturbed. Psychological disturbances and emotional distress also occur - violent conduct by persons continuously exposed to unbearable noise. The National Physical Laboratory has found that Delhi, Bombay and Calcutta are the noisiest cities in the world. Even the Election Commission has recognized the harmful effects of noise and banned use of loudspeakers during the elections. Widespread ill effects of Noise Pollution such as high blood pressure, increased acidity and peptic ulcer formation, deafness, mental agitation and disturbance of sleep generally became known to people in early 1980s. So far Bombay Police Act 1951 and Bombay Municipal Corporation Act 1888 considered noise as just a nuisance, now it is known as major health hazard. We in India are exposed not only to noises, common to most countries, but in addition we have to face misuse of loudspeakers, loud and shrill vehicle horns, noisy crackers, etc, which are firmly put down in most countries.

A survey carried out in Bombay by the Society for Clean Environment (SOCLEEN) and Ali Yavar Jung National Institute for Hearing Handicapped revealed that the main sources for noise were:


1. Road Traffic 2. Use of loudspeakers 3. Bursting of crackers 4. Industrial activities 5. Railways 6. Aircrafts

7. Radio and Television

Rights and remedies

All of us are entitled to live in an environment free from pollution. Under the recently enacted Environment Protection Act 1986, the Government does have the power to curb noise pollution; rules have been framed for enforcing this aspect of the Act in 1989. If you are concerned or troubled by noise pollution and seek to remedy the situation, the answer is simple – you must be prepared to act. Preferably form a group in your society or locality which is prepared to take up all violations of the Environment Protection Act, with the police; the Municipality and if necessary, the Courts. First and foremost examine your own actions and consider whether you are creating unnecessary noise, which affects your neighbours and surroundings. You may not have control over all sources of noise, but you can at least control the noise levels emanating from your own radio, TV, car etc. Also don’t buy firecrackers that make noise - buy only the ones that light up your celebrations. Persuade your friends and neighbours to do the same.

If you are still troubled by obnoxious noise in your neighborhoods caused by

loudspeakers, film shows, late night parties, crackers etc., ring up the police control room (100) as well as the nearest police station. You are not bound to give your name and address. Please keep an accurate record of your complaints. If you phone the police control room, ask for your complaint ‘ticket’ number.

Also get the name and designation of the officer who answers the phone, as well as the time and the date. If the concerned police officer refuses to act, the police commissioner will then be able to pull up his recalcitrant officers. Do make sure you mention all the relevant details in your complaint.

It is also advisable to make a written complaint to nearby police station with copy to Police Commissioner and copy to Bombay Environmental Action Group, preferably make a group complaint.


Complain to Regional Transport Commissioner or the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic). Give the offending vehicle’s number/s, and the date, time and place of the offense.


Present Police regulations ban firecrackers between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. Although this is a violation of the Environment Protection Act, even this is completely ignored, and the police have taken no action although the Bombay Police Act empowers them to do so. Moreover the maximum fine for violation according to the Bombay Police Act is Rs.50/- but the EP Act provides for a fine of Rs.1 lakh and jail for five years. Even if a single case is brought to court and exemplary punishment given, there will be a major change in attitude – the contempt, which some people have for the general welfare of the people and inability of the police to act. There are special regulations for firecrackers near hospitals, nursing homes, etc. but these are also totally ignored causing patients intense agony (as has been repeatedly pointed out in the press).

The police routinely issue lists of banned types of firecrackers. However neither the public, the police or the explosives department can state, by looking at a cracker, that it is illegal. For instance, an atom bomb must not weigh more than 21 gms. Is any one able to say looking at it, that it is under 21 gms? Or the authorities supposed to carry

weighing scales and weigh each and every item in all shops? The only way is to control manufacture at the source.

If shops in your neighbourhood are selling banned crackers, call the police. Remember that it is easier to control this nuisance at the point of origin rather than after the damage has been done and the incriminating evidence blows up.

What happens when the police fail to respond?

The answer is simple- escalate your campaign. If the sub-inspector on duty refuses to act, see the station inspector, if the station inspector refuses to act, write to the Police Commissioner. If police control room refuses to respond, call the Police Commissioner. If you are worried that revealing your identity will make you vulnerable to local

pressures, ask a friend who lives in the other end of town to complain on your behalf, or write to a concerned environmental group such as Bombay Environmental Action Group (BEAG), Society for Clean Environment (SOCLEEN) or Association of Medical

Consultants (addresses given at the end).

You will be surprised at the tremendous impact a letter to the Editor of any of the leading newspapers will have on the lethargic public machinery.


When the nuisance is beyond tolerable limits and other means don’t work, file a writ petition in the High Court. The above groups will be glad to help you in every way. This method has been successful in the past. Once there is a court order the police are bound to act, or face contempt of court.

Contact your local MP/MLA/Councilor and bring to his notice the harmful effects of noise as well as your own particular problem. Write to Department of Environment, Government of India, as well as State Environment Department.

Other ways in which you can help

If you are interested in helping others besides helping yourselves, are you prepared to spare your time or your money or both? If the answer is yes, then please write to BEAG.

Decibels (dB)

A decibel is a logarithm of the radio of the sound pressure experienced to the reference pressure (which is the threshold of hearing). It is a unit for expressing the intensity of sound on a scale from zero (for the average least perceptible sound) to about 130 for the average pain level. Even small values in dB levels mean large difference in terms of sound pressure. For example the sound pressure at 120 dB is a hundred times more than at 80 dB. An increase of just 3 dB means there is doubling in sound pressure.

Relation between sound pressure and dB

0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 120 130 140 dB

100 birds 1,000 10,000 1,00,000 10,00,000 1,00,00,000 singing quiet room typing car horn power drill airplane taking off library/study

While noise usually won’t kill us, it can certainly make our lives miserable. Whether it’s an inconsiderate neighbor listening to their music loud enough to rattle our teeth or a jet plane takeoff that shakes our whole house, noise is not a laughing matter for the 20 million or more U.S. residents estimated to be "exposed on a regular basis to

hazardous noise levels that could result in hearing loss" (National Institutes of Health, 1990) or the millions of others who lose sleep, feel constantly stressed, or otherwise


suffer from unwanted sounds they can’t escape in the office or at home. And people aren’t the only creatures affected by noise pollution. Airplane noise can cause birds to abandon their nests and young, and many species of whales run away from the low frequency noises of ship engines and from high frequency sonar.

When considering the effects of noise on human health and quality of life, we have to take into account the intensity of the sound in question, its duration, and the time and place at which it is heard. Sound intensity is usually measured on the logarithmic decibel (dB) scale, often weighted to discriminate against the lower frequencies, as our own ears do (dB(A)). A noise 10dB more intense than another sounds twice as loud. Here are some sample sounds and their A-weighted average intensities:

~ threshold of hearing (0dB) ~ rustling leaves (20dB)

~ soft whisper, three feet (30dB) ~ normal conversation (55-60dB) ~ car passing, 15 feet (70dB)

~ vacuum cleaner; freeway traffic (80dB) ~ gas-powered lawn mower (90dB) ~ subway train, inside (95dB) ~ snowmobile (100dB) ~ chainsaw (110dB) ~ rock concert (120dB)

~ threshold of pain (120-130dB)

~ airplane takeoff, 100 feet (130-150dB) ~ firecracker (150dB)

~ shotgun (170dB)

A single unprotected short-range exposure to a gunshot or explosion can sometimes cause permanent hearing loss, but most of the time hearing loss results from long-term exposure to less intense sounds. Noises heard close up are more harmful than noises at a distance, and noises at night are often more harmful than noises heard during the day, because we’re trying to rest at night.

Sources of Noise

Probably the single largest sources of noise are airports. As listed above, a jet taking off can sound as loud as 150dB(A) if your house is directly under its flight path. Jack Saporito, executive director of the Alliance of Residents Concerning O’Hare

(AreCO), says that when a jet passes over your house, "your windows rattle, the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, your blood pressure goes up." Conversations stop when a jet screams by, as does teaching in a nearby school or sleeping in nearby homes.

At a busy airport like O’Hare, aircraft can take off as often as every 15-22 seconds, and the noise can be bothersome more than 15 miles away from the airport. Newer, quieter aircraft are being phased in, but air traffic is increasing at such a rapid rate —


according to the Federal Aviation Administration, there will be at least 36 percent more flights in 2007 than today — that airport noise pollution will increase even with the use of quieter planes.

Highways and railways are also large sources of noise for people who live nearby. The Federal Highway Administration says that the level of highway traffic noise depends on the volume of traffic, its speed, and the number of trucks it contains; increases in any of these factors increase traffic noise. Vehicle noise comes from the engine, exhaust, and tires; faulty equipment, such as defective mufflers, increases vehicle noise, as does having to climb a steep grade. Locomotive diesel engines are probably the loudest noise source, but idling engines and blowing whistles produce the most railway noise

complaints, according to Greg Zak, noise advisor for the Illinois EPA.

We are also subjected to noise at work and play. Anyone who operates heavy machinery, in a factory or on a farm, may experience dangerously high levels of noise. Les

Blomberg, executive director of the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse, says that "20 to 30 percent of the population regularly exposed to levels permitted by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration [90 dB(A) in an eight-hour workday] will suffer hearing loss." That’s a conservative estimate; the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recommends lowering this permissible exposure level to 85 dB(A). A study reported by the BBC last summer found that even office workers exposed to low-level noises such as overheard gossip and computer keyboard clatter had their short-term memory and math skills reduced by up to 60 percent due to these noisy distractions. Weekend warriors mowing their lawns with gas-powered mowers endanger their own hearing unless they wear ear protection, as do those who wield snow-and leafblowers. We all know that rock concerts can be bad for your ears, as can personal stereos played at maximum volume for extended periods. But did you know that the average health club pumps up the volume to 110 or even 120dB(A)? That movies in state-of-the-art theaters can clock in at up to 118dB(A)? That some toy phones ring at between 123 and


Because noise often does not produce visible effects, and because there is usually not a distinct cause-and-effect ("dose-response" in medical terms) relationship between a

Effects of Noise on Health and Well-Being

Calling noise a nuisance is like calling smog an inconvenience. Noise must be considered a hazard to the health of people everywhere.

— Dr. William H. Stewart, former U.S. Surgeon General

single noise event and a clear adverse health effect, some people believe noise does not pose a serious risk to human health. But evidence from a number of recent studies, especially on children, provides ample proof that noise harms human health and decreases quality of life.


A report released by the American Academy of Pediatrics in October of 1997 concludes that "(1) exposure to excessive noise during pregnancy may result in high-frequency hearing loss in newborns, and may be associated with prematurity and intrauterine growth retardation, (2) exposure to noise in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) may result in cochlear [inner ear] damage, and (3) exposure to noise and other environmental factors in the NICU may disrupt the normal growth and development of premature infants."

In a series of studies published since 1995, Gary W. Evans of Cornell University and his coworkers have found that chronic exposure to aircraft noise in elementary school children can raise blood pressure and stress levels and cause defects in reading abilities and long-term memory. Other studies show that children exposed to noise from elevated trains and highways at school also perform worse on standardized reading tests than do students at the same schools in quieter classrooms.

An article by rlinAe L. Bronzaft and colleagues published early in 1998 found that nearly 70 percent of respondents to a questionnaire who lived within the flight corridors of a major airport were bothered by the noise. Also, "subjects who were bothered by aircraft noise were more likely to complain of sleep difficulties and more likely to perceive themselves to be in poorer health."

Other studies have linked noise to industrial accidents, sleep loss, decreased ability to concentrate, and gastrointestinal problems.

Summing up the quality of life and public health issues, David Staudacher of

Vancouver’s Right to Quiet Society says, "By any standard of health, from infant mortality to life expectancy, statistics will show that people are healthier in quiet areas than in noisy ones (all else being equal). The reason, I believe, is that noise destroys the sense of public peace and tranquility that nourishes healthy social interaction."

Regulating Noise

Given the many negative effects of noise on public health and well-being, one would expect the government to regulate noise pollution just as stringently as it does other forms of pollution. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

The first federal legislation on noise pollution was passed in 1972. Called the Noise Control Act (NCA), this law established the Office of Noise Abatement and Control (ONAC) as part of the U.S. EPA to protect all Americans from "noise that jeopardizes their health or welfare." The NCA specifically charged ONAC with regulating noise emissions from new products used in interstate commerce, coordinating the noise abatement efforts of other agencies, and providing information to the public concerning the noise emissions of products. In a 1991 review article, Sidney A. Shapiro, a University of Kansas law professor, assessed the pros and cons of ONAC, and concluded that

"although ONAC’s efforts were more successful in some areas than others, it had a record of accomplishment after the first decade of the NCA." Nevertheless, funding for


ONAC was abolished in 1982 during Ronald Reagan’s presidency, though the NCA was not repealed.

Since then, noise regulation has effectively fallen to other agencies within the federal government, as well as to state and local governments. Illinois residents are fortunate in that we are one of only 13 states that have statewide noise regulations, and one of fewer still in which they are actively enforced (based on data from the Noise Pollution


Illinois EPA, and noise advisor Greg Zak in particular, handle noise monitoring and complaints for the state. According to Zak, "if you have a noise problem in Illinois, you call me." Zak handles about 2,000 complaints a year, mainly by providing the

complainants with "self-help" information about the steps to follow in resolving the problem, and also by helping research noise control technology. About ten noise

complaints per year end up in hearings before the Illinois Pollution Control Board, which can assess penalties as high as $50,000 for the offense and $10,000 for each day that it continues (though the board very rarely levels such draconian fines for noise pollution). Sometimes Zak can also help the noise emitter as well as the complainant by "finding something else that can do the same thing [as the noisemaker] but make much less or no noise." For example, before the federal laws took away Illinois’ jurisdiction over railroads, Zak fielded a number of complaints about train engines left idling all night long in the wintertime so that they wouldn’t freeze. After doing some research, Zak found a company that manufactured small water heaters to keep diesel engines warm. Although the heaters cost a couple hundred dollars apiece, they used far less fuel than keeping the train engines idling all night, and the railroads found that after a couple months the heaters had paid for themselves in saved fuel costs!

While Illinois noise laws cannot regulate vehicles involved in interstate commerce, they are otherwise quite comprehensive, covering noises that cross from one private property to another, including air conditioners, ventilator fans, debris blowers, and motor vehicles. Many municipalities have used the Illinois regulations as models on which to base their own ordinances, with some local laws being more stringent and some less so.

On the federal level, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Federal Railroad Administration, and the Federal Highway Administration have all been less than zealous at enforcing noise pollution standards in their various jurisdictions. This is especially problematic because the NCA specifically prohibits state and local governments from regulating noise emissions related to interstate commerce — despite the fact such commerce produces much of the worst noise pollution in the U.S.

The situation is particularly frustrating for those disturbed by aircraft noise. In their 1996 report, "Flying Off Course: Environmental Impacts of America’s Airports," the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) notes that "airport communities often find themselves with little recourse in addressing noise impacts under the FAA’s current noise policies. In particular, the noise threshold that the FAA has set as compatible with


residential use (65dB DNL) is problematic "because:" (1) it is based on an averaging of noise, rather than the loud‘single event’ noise that specifically characterizes aircraft noise, and (2) the threshold of 65dB significantly underestimates the level at which many people are annoyed or impacted by aircraft noise." NRDC recommends that the FAA instead adopt a noise threshold of 55 dB CNEL (CNEL levels include an additional 5dB penalty for noise emitted between 7:00 and 10:00 pm) for its planning and funding decisions.

Several bills recently introduced in Congress deal with the aviation industry and noise pollution. First, the good news. The Right to Know About Airport Pollution Act of 1999 (S.775 / H.R. 1463) would require the U.S. EPA to conduct a feasibility study using a new research methodology known as "airport bubbles" to treat airports and an area within a specific radius around them as a single pollution source. It would also force the EPA to re-examine its air pollutant emission standards for airplane engines to determine whether they should be strengthened.

S.81 and H.R.717 both seek to reduce overflights of national parks by aircraft. That would certainly please wildlife living in the parks and park visitors who want a quiet vacation there.

In the bad news department, though, the language in the park overflights bills has been largely incorporated into S.545 and H.R.1000, the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1999 and the Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century, respectively. According to Jack Saporito of the Alliance of Residents

Concerning O’Hare, "these bills would set the basis for massively increasing aviation within the next ten years." They effectively remove the high-density rule that limits airports to 155 flights per hour. If this rule is removed, "we’re looking at doubling the amount of flights at many airports, tripling in some areas," says Saporito.

Reducing Noise

Noise reduction starts with all of us. Everybody can turn down their stereos a notch, try not to make noise early in the morning or late at night, and adopt other simple "good neighbor" behaviors. Do you really need a leafblower, or would a rake work just as well, and give you better exercise too?

We can also help by discouraging airport expansion and instead supporting development of a Midwest high-speed rail system. High-speed rail emits far less ground, air, water, and noise pollution than aircraft do, and the Environmental Law and Policy Center predicts that high-speed rail would pay for itself soon after an initial infrastructure investment. It’s ideal for trips of less than 500 miles, and such low-mileage travel accounts for about half of O’Hare flights.

We can also use the market to provide incentives for manufacturers to produce quieter products. One step in this direction is to buy quiet products when they are available, such as reel (push) or electric lawn mowers instead of gas-powered mowers. You can find a


list of some other quiet products on the Right to Quiet Society’s web site (see below). We also can lobby for product labeling that states a product’s operating noise level. This labeling could be based on the energy efficiency labeling system already in use on refrigerators and other appliances. The U.S. EPA’s ONAC was working on

developing such a noise labeling program when its funding was cut in 1982.

Which brings us to another way to reduce noise: get funding for the EPA’s ONAC office and update the federal regulations on noise pollution. Ideally, ONAC would provide both advice and small grants to state and local groups fighting noise. It also would stimulate, fund, and conduct research on noise and health and help develop quieter products and more effective noise control measures.

Current federal laws should also be changed so that state and local governments are allowed to adopt stricter regulations on noise from interstate commerce, so that the federal agencies responsible for aviation, railroads, and highways are not also responsible for developing and enforcing their own rules on noise pollution.

Legislation to reestablish ONCA will probably be introduced in Congress soon; watch for and support the Quiet Communities Act of 1999, to be sponsored by Robert G. Torricelli in the Senate.

If you have a recurring noise problem locally, you can ask your city council member to pass a local noise pollution ordinance. You can get help drafting such local legislation from Greg Zak at Illinois EPA, as well as the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse and the Rutgers Noise Technical Assistance Center.

In the meantime, soundproofing for homes and schools, constructing berms or sound walls along highways and railways, and other technological fixes can help reduce noise. Active noise cancellation technology holds great promise for the future, but is not very efficient or widely available yet. However, as Les Blomberg of the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse points out, "it’s a lot easier to stop noise before it’s produced

Noise Pollution And Control Equipment

Noise pollution and control equipment like acoustic emission analysis equipment, noise analyzer, barriers, panel,

suppressors, hearing protection device, hearing protector, refinery noise reduction equipment, vibration control

instruments and many other miscellaneous noise pollution and control equipment are available in the market nurturing the needs of the buyers. It is used are available in many different sizes, shapes, features and with variety of different functions suiting different industrial purposes.


These are available in various price ranges suiting individual budget. Noise pollution and control equipment are used for wide variety of applications like in reducing noise, c controlling vibrations and other variety of applications. They sometimes help in enhancing production and are used in many industrial sectors.


Air pollution from World War II production.

Pollution is the introduction of contaminants into an environment that causes instability, disorder, harm or discomfort to the ecosystem i.e. physical systems or living organisms .

[1] Pollution can take the form of chemical substances, or energy, such as noise, heat, or light energy. Pollutants, the elements of pollution, can be foreign substances or energies, or naturally occurring; when naturally occurring, they are considered contaminants when they exceed natural levels. Pollution is often classed as point source or nonpoint source pollution. The Blacksmith Institute issues annually a list of the world's worst polluted places. In the 2007 issues the ten top nominees are located in Azerbaijan, China, India,

Peru, Russia, Ukraine and Zambia.

Forms of pollution

The major forms of pollution are listed below along with the particular pollutants relevant to each of them:

• Air pollution, the release of chemicals and particulates into the atmosphere. Common gaseous air pollutants include carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide,

chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and nitrogen oxides produced by industry and motor vehicles. Photochemical ozone and smog are created as nitrogen oxides and

hydrocarbons react to sunlight. Particulate matter, or fine dust is characterized by their micrometre size PM10 to PM2.5.


• Water pollution, by the release of waste products and contaminants into surface

runoff into river drainage systems, leaching into groundwater, liquid spills,

wastewater discharges, eutrophication and littering.

• Soil contamination occurs when chemicals are released by spill or underground leakage. Among the most significant soil contaminants are hydrocarbons, heavy metals, MTBE [7] , herbicides, pesticides and chlorinated hydrocarbons.

• Radioactive contamination, resulting from 20th century activities in atomic physics, such as nuclear power generation and nuclear weapons research, manufacture and deployment. (See alpha emitters and actinides in the environment.)

• Noise pollution, which encompasses roadway noise, aircraft noise, industrial noise as well as high-intensity sonar.

• Light pollution, includes light trespass, over-illumination and astronomical


• Visual pollution, which can refer to the presence of overhead power lines, motorway billboards, scarred landforms (as from strip mining), open storage of trash or municipal solid waste.

• Thermal pollution, is a temperature change in natural water bodies caused by human influence, such as use of water as coolant in a power plant.




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