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Noise

The Unexposed Health Hazard

 The Unexposed Health Hazard
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27th-Jun-2020       
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Md. Arafat Rahman :
The propagation of noise with ranging impacts on the activity of human or animal life is known as environmental noise or sound pollution. The source of outdoor noise worldwide is mainly caused by machines, transport, and propagation systems. Poor urban planning may give rise to noise disintegration or pollution, side-by-side industrial and residential buildings can result in noise pollution in the residential areas. Some of the main sources of noise in residential areas include loud music, transportation (traffic, rail, airplanes, etc.), lawn care maintenance, construction, electrical generators, explosions, and people.
Noise is measured in Decibel (dB). Noise pollution associated with household electricity generators is an emerging environmental degradation in many developing nations. The average noise level of 97.60 dB obtained exceeded the WHO value of 50 dB allowed for residential areas. Research suggests that noise pollution is the highest in low-income and racial minority neighborhoods. High noise levels can contribute to cardiovascular effects in humans and an increased incidence of coronary artery disease. In animals, noise can increase the risk of death by altering predator or prey detection and avoidance, interfere with reproduction and navigation, and contribute to permanent hearing loss.
While the elderly may have cardiac problems due to noise, according to the World Health Organization, children are especially vulnerable to noise, and the effects that noise has on children may be permanent. Noise poses a serious threat to a child's physical and psychological health, and may negatively interfere with a child's learning and behavior. Noise pollution affects both health and behavior. Unwanted sound (noise) can damage physiological health. Noise pollution is associated with several health conditions, including cardiovascular disorders, hypertension, high stress levels, tinnitus, hearing loss, sleep disturbances, and other harmful and disturbing effects. According to a 2019 review of the existing literature, noise pollution was associated with faster cognitive decline.
Sound becomes unwanted when it either interferes with normal activities such as sleep or conversation, or disrupts or diminishes one's quality of life. Noise-induced hearing loss can be caused by prolonged exposure to noise levels above 85 A-weighted decibels. Noise exposure in the workplace can also contribute to noise-induced hearing loss and other health issues. Occupational hearing loss is one of the most common work-related illnesses worldwide.
Noise pollution can have negative effects on adults and children on the autistic spectrum. Those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can have hyperacusis, which is an abnormal sensitivity to sound. People with ASD who experience hyperacusis may have unpleasant emotions, such as fear and anxiety, and uncomfortable physical sensations in noisy environments with loud sounds. This can cause individuals with ASD to avoid environments with noise pollution, which in turn can result in isolation and negatively affect their quality of life. Sudden explosive noises typical of high-performance car exhausts and car alarms are types of noise pollution that can affect people with ASD.
Noise can have a detrimental effect on animals, increasing the risk of death by changing the delicate balance in predator or prey detection and avoidance, and interfering the use of the sounds in communication, especially in relation to reproduction and in navigation. These effects then may alter more interactions within a community through indirect effects. Acoustic overexposure can lead to temporary or permanent loss of hearing.
Underwater noise pollution due to human activities is also prevalent in the sea. Cargo ships generate high levels of noise due to propellers and diesel engines. This noise pollution significantly raises the low-frequency ambient noise levels above those caused by wind. Animals such as whales that depend on sound for communication can be affected by this noise in various ways. Higher ambient noise levels also cause animals to vocalize more loudly, which is called the Lombard effect. Researchers have found that humpback whales' song lengths were longer when low-frequency sonar was active nearby.
Noise pollution may have caused the death of certain species of whales that beached themselves after being exposed to the loud sound of military sonar. Even marine invertebrates, such as crabs have been shown to be negatively affected by ship noise. Larger crabs were noted to be negatively affected more by the sounds than smaller crabs. Repeated exposure to the sounds did lead to acclimatization. Several reasons have been identified relating to hypersensitivity in invertebrates when exposed to anthropogenic noise. Invertebrates have evolved to pick up sound, and a large portion of their physiology is adapted for the purpose of detecting environmental vibrations.
Terrestrial anthropogenic noise affects the acoustic communications in grasshoppers while producing sound to attract a mate. The fitness and reproductive success of a grasshopper is dependent on its ability to attract a mating partner. Male grasshoppers attract females by using stridulation to produce courtship songs. The females produce acoustic signals that are shorter and primarily low frequency and amplitude, in response to the male's song. Research has found that this species of grasshopper changes its mating call in response to loud traffic noise.
The Hierarchy of Controls concept is often used to reduce noise in the environment or the workplace. Engineering noise controls can be used to reduce noise propagation and protect individuals from overexposure. When noise controls are not feasible or adequate, individuals can also take steps to protect themselves from the harmful effects of noise pollution. If people must be around loud sounds, they can protect their ears with hearing protection (e.g., ear plugs or ear muffs). In recent years, programs and initiatives have arisen in an effort to combat occupational noise exposures. These programs promote the purchase of quieter tools and equipment and encourage manufacturers to design quieter equipment.
Noise from roadways and other urban factors can be mitigated by urban planning and better design of roads. Roadway noise can be reduced by the 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 by using quieter jet engines. Altering flight paths and time of day runway has benefited residents near airports.

(Md. Arafat Rahman is Asst Officer, Career & Professional Development Services Department, Southeast University. E-mail: arafat.bcpr@seu.edu.bd)

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