Stop the noise!


The effect of noise on humans

In humans, it’s been shown that exposure to moderately high levels of noise for an eight hour period can increase blood pressure and cause other cardiac issues – even if the person is not particularly consciously disturbed. Noise pollution can also cause gastric problems. Sometimes a person doesn’t even realize their body is stressed by noise until the noise is no longer present – they just feel a sudden sense of relief.

Exposure to excessively loud noise over long periods can also lead to partial deafness. Approximately 10 percent of people living in industrialized areas have substantial hearing loss and youngsters in the USA have an impaired hearing rate 250% higher than their parents and grandparents.

Noise also lies at the root of some violence – many assaults and murders can be attributed to a noise issue that spiralled out of control. Where noise is used to irritate or disrupt others, in my opinion it’s also a form of assault.

Do you know the effects noise has on the environment?

In nature, noise causes many adverse effects on animals and even plants – here are some examples i have gathered through the internet:

  • Birds in a city need to call longer and louder than their country counterparts
  • Birds that rely on hearing to help locate prey are seriously disadvantaged by industrial noise
  • Noise disturbs feeding and breeding patterns of some animals and has been identified as a contributing factor of the extinction of some species. 
  • Aircraft noise and sonic booms have been implicated as a cause of lowered reproduction in a variety of animals.
  • Military sonar has been responsible for the deaths of possibly thousands of dolphins and whales.
  • Even outboard motor noise can confuse some whales and dolphins.
  • In dairy cows, excessive noise reduces feed consumption, milk yield, and rate of milk release
  • Noise causes increased incidence of miscarriages in caribou
  • Intense noise can affect growth of chickens and egg production
  • Canaries can suffer hearing damage at relatively low decibel levels if the noise is sustained
  • Noise has also been shown to have a detrimental effect on the reproduction of some plants through interfering with pollinator or seed spreading activity.
  • Traffic noise could be hampering the reproductive process of frogs in metropolitan areas by drowning out the mating calls of males.
  • When squid, octopus and cuttlefish are subjected to low frequency sound, sever lesions can develop in their auditory structures

Imagine a world without noise

Ever wondered how much quieter the world would be if every single combustion engine was switched off and all electrical equipment shut down for a few minutes simultaneously. After all, noise doesn’t really disappear, like all energy it just changes form or dissipates. Given this, even if you’re out in the middle of nowhere, does the sum total of all the human-generated noise in the world still affect that area? Finding easily accessible quiet places, really quiet places, where the only noises are those of nature, is becoming increasingly difficult.

Noise is very much underrated when it comes to environmental issues. We have our “turn out the lights” days, “don’t drive” days – I’d love to see a “no noise” hour initiative. Unfortunately, most people don’t know what quiet is  and if we don’t teach our children, they will never appreciate the concept of a noise-free experience.

Our usual reaction to dealing with noise is to add more noise – for example, turning up the TV or yelling. We simply don’t know what we’re blocking out, and what we don’t know, we don’t miss.

Playing your part in reducing noise

Noise is something we can all do something about; whether it’s fixing a faulty muffler on your car, turning down our music a little so our neighbors don’t have to listen to it  or making the effort when out in the wild not to yell and shout unnecessarily. Here are some other tips for noise reduction:

  • Cell phones ringing annoy the hell out of many people – keeps yours to the lowest level practicable
  • If you have to raise your voice to have a conversation, something is wrong; so see what noise sources around in your immediate environment that you have control over.
  • Discourage your dogs from barking unnecessarily for extended periods. Barking dogs feature heavily in disputes between neighbors.
  • Institute a quiet time in your household’s routine
  • Make special efforts to keep noise to a minimum at night and early in the morning as these are times when people are trying to unwind or sleep
  • Believe me, very few people want to hear your music, no matter how cool you think it is. There’s other ways to make social statements that are likely more effective and will have a more positive response 🙂
  • If you do want to turn your stereo up; ensure the doors and windows are closed and reduce the bass levels as bass travels even through brick walls quite easily.
  • If your lifestyle is a particularly rowdy one, consider planting more shrubs and trees around your property. Not only will this reduce noise affecting your neighbors, you’ll provide shelter and food for animals and also play a part in greenhouse gas reduction.


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Past President, Orange County Association of Realtors (949) 753-7900

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