Beep beep, Dum, Bammmmmm, Duhhhh are some onomatopoeic sounds that
immediately makes the reader realize the loudness involved even while reading it. Loudness
sometimes irritates people apart from polluting the environment. Noise pollution is the excessive
human, animal or machine created environmental noise that disrupts the activity or balance of
human life. The word originates from the Latin word ‘Nauseas’ which means sickness. Noise
pollution has evolved with the evolution of the mankind. Certainly noises that are considered as
noise pollutants now would not have existed hundred years back. Noise pollution is a serious
health risk. WHO -World Health Organization has established the maximum allowable levels of
noise above which people are harmed.
Noise could be from traffic, industries, domestic noises from mixers, grinders, loud music
etc. It can range from a domestic noise to a noise that causes disturbance in the whole world.
Any unpleasant sound in all the domains of life gets categorized as noise. Typically, sound is
form of energy emitted from a vibrating body and reaches the ear through the nerves. The
frequency limits for the ears is 20Hz to 20000Hz. However, sounds produced by all the vibrating
bodies are not audible.
Noise problem typically has three inter-related elements which includes the source, the
receiver and the transmission path. The transmission path is usually the atmosphere through
which the sound is propagated but is inclusive of all the structural materials the receiver is
situated in. Based on these facts the noise could be continuous or it could be intermittent, could
be of a high frequency or a low frequency. The discrimination and differentiation between sound
and noise depends upon the habit and interest of the individual. What seems annoying to one
person would seem pleasing to the other. There could be instances that, excellently rendered
musical concert for example, may be felt as noise and exceptional music as well during the
course of the concert.
The intensity of sound is measured in Sound pressure level and there are noise ordinances
for every city as formulated by the State Government. There are separate ordinances for
industrial areas, commercial areas, hospitals, schools etc. It is illegal to cross the limits set by
these standards and any person doing can be subjected to legal punishments by the law.
Although, noise ordinances claim to reduce the noise pollution to some extent there are
still many people who have been affected by noise pollution. The noise sources are first
categorized and then the effect of each type of noise source on people is found.
The sources of noises may vary from domestic which includes cutting of vegetables,
fruits, mixers, grinders, natural noises which include waterfall, animals, birds, commercial noises
which include marriages, aero planes, automobiles, machinery and industrial which includes
plant operations, trolley movement, pumps, motors etc. Each of this has individual effects on
people. On city streets hydraulic horns of vehicles, cassette players in crowded cities are
dangerous to the people. Especially in cities like Chennai, Kolkata it is dangerous as the
population is immense. Also, this risks the behavior of children being exposed to this kind of
noise pollution (Ramachandraiah). It has been estimated that if a child below three years of age
hears a horn emitting 100 dB of noise from a close range, he or she might lose his or her hearing
power. A child's health may also be adversely affected by loud sounds from the radio, television,
cassette players and microphones, the sound of mills and factories and loud noise.
According to World Health Organization people who are exposed to 60dB suffer from
temporary deafness and people who are exposed to 100dB suffer from permanent deafness. Most
of the roads in India have an alarming decibel level ranging from 60-90dB which is a serious
threat to the environment.
Apart from creating deafness temporary or permanent noise pollution also causes ill and
peevish temperament, affects lungs, hampers the intellect of children and makes them apathetic
towards their studies (Mahadi, n.d). The Department of Environment proposes that noise causes
mental and physical illness among the people. It causes high blood pressure, tachycardia,
headache, indigestion, peptic ulcer, and also affects sound sleep making the person feel
completely restless the rest of the day and this causes ill-temperament (Jeva,1996). Department
of environment estimated that pregnant women who live near airport give birth to more crippled,
deformed and immature children than mothers in the other areas.
Lack of civic sense compounds the problem of noise pollution to a great extent.
Organizers of different functions including marriage ceremonies and other social or political
events install loudspeakers to play music or to deliver speeches, even in the late hours of night.
They do not spare a thought that the noise they create could be a source of extreme mental agony
for people who are living around, particularly patients, students studying for exams or those
trying to rest after a hard day's work. I have personally experienced mental agony without being
able to prepare for an exam the next day owing to the loud-speaker that was installed near my
house during the time of a local election.
The health hazards of people who were not involved in creating the noise pollution were
discussed so far. However, noise pollution can also be an occupational hazard for people
working in factories, welding, drilling, in the airport run-way during take-off and landing of the
plane. People who are working under high noise environment work with ear muffs and are
advised to wear ear muffs when they are on site working. Some developed countries have also
stopped use of drills in owing to the occupational hazard that it creates.
The best way to control noise pollution is to make people realize the responsibility of
having a lesser polluted environment and make the laws very stringent so that there are no loop
holes. Awareness about noise pollution should be brought to students at the school level, so that
every student realizes that it is his/her responsibility to preserve the environment and make this
world a better place to live in.
Assessment and Control of Noise Pollution in Mining Industry . (1989). Proceedings of National
Seminar . Chennai.
Abramov, V. (1997). World Health Organization . Retrieved 2011, from http://www.who.int/inf-
Jeva, R. (1996). Noise Impact Assessment - an approach.
Mahadi, M. (n.d.). Noise Pollution in Dhaka City. Dhaka.
Ramachandriah, A. (n.d.). Environmental Noise Study of Chennai City. Madras: Indian Institute
Rao, P. (1995). Noise pollution and Control. In Environmedia Publications (p. Vol 2).