Noise Pollution

It seems to be that noise pollution is all around us. Hearing people generally have no escape from it unless they take steps to mitigate it. You can be near construction work sites for some time. An airport is nearby, or railroad tracks are close by. Maybe you live in a unhealthy, crime-ridden area where visitations in the area by emergency vehicles for crime and health reasons are commonplace. You have several children who are infants and wake up during the night (there’s no escaping this, deaf or hearing, however). Or you drive noisy tractors or a vehicle with muffler effects and operate noisy equipment like jackhammers and so on. I’m lucky in that the only thing that will wake me up at night (other than someone waking me up) is thunder that is loud enough to be felt and heard, and that I can turn my hearing aids off. I have had to do the latter in the case of noisy tractors because my vision would bounce so much that I would have a hard time lip-reading the person yelling over the noise!

Noise pollution has a big impact on people and animals. Stress, lack of sleep/tiredness, irritability, body function levels, coordination, reaction times, distraction, and especially hearing loss are some factors affected by noise pollution. A lack of sleep can also contribute to reduced body maintenance, leading to disease, as the body needs to have sufficient deep sleep to regenerate for the next day.

A source for help with noise pollution is the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse in Vermont. They state on their web site, “We have a library of resources, experience assisting individuals and groups opposed to noise pollution, and access to sound level monitoring equipment that individuals often do not have. We will assist with testimony and comments presented to planning commissions, zoning boards, city councils, and judges. We can also get you in touch with experts in the field and others working on similar projects in your local area or nationally.”

There are things you can do. When you move to a new place, TRY to stay away from airports and rail lines. You’ll have to factor in transportation modes of commuting and the cost of each one in avoiding areas of noise sources. You could invest through an audiologist in custom-molded ear plugs. Ear plugs would be part of a sensory-deprivation strategy in getting more sleep, and they can be worn where noise is an occupational hazard. Try to build an “inner house” in which you build a simplified, non-heavy-load bearing “house” inside your bedroom with lightweight, insulated walls and a ceiling. This would be completely standalone with no attachment to your house structure, as you need the isolation to decouple the sound transmission from the house’s walls into the inner house. Plus, it’ll provide better insulation against hot and cold as an added benefit. Another thing you can do is either have no sound or pleasant, soothing music playing in the house just prior to bed time.

You have avenues for escaping the consequences of modern civilization, so make use of them and protect your hearing!