Dealing with Noise Pollution in Your Neighborhood

In Health, Hearing Health, Hearing Loss Causes, Hearing Loss Prevention, Tips and Tricks by Bary E. Williams Au.D.

Bang! Crash! Slam! Honk! Screech!

Does this sound like the world outside your window? If so, you’re not alone. More and more unchecked noise, denser populations and increasing traffic are making noise pollution an unavoidable fact of modern life. Trains, planes and automobiles all contribute to an urban ruckus while pumped up televisions, stereos and appliances generate a soundscape of neighbor-based noise.

What can be done to prevent noise pollution? Education and awareness are a first step, as well as empowering yourself to recognize harmful noise levels and working with your neighborhood to protect everyone’s hearing health.


Know Your Limits

Just how loud is modern life? Exposure to harmful noise pollution is skyrocketing based on numbers from the American Speech Language Hearing Association which estimates 30 million Americans, about 1 in 10 people, are at regularly living around dangerous levels of sound.

What makes sound harmful? A good way to monitor your surroundings is by understanding decibels. Decibels are a ratio measurement that help us understand the loudness of sound. An important threshold for our hearing is 75 dB. At levels above 75 dB, noise has the potential to permanently damage our hearing. While a constant exposure to 85 dB will cause irreparable harm after 8 hours, louder volumes can do damage much quicker. Sound levels around 105 dB, about the volume of a rock concert, cause permanent hearing injury in under 5 minutes of exposure. Proximity to exceptionally loud volumes like fireworks or heavy construction is immediately dangerous for your hearing.

You can convert your smart phone into a tool for fighting noise pollution by equipping yourself with a decibel monitoring app. Tracking decibel levels throughout your day can not only give you a good indication of what sort of noise pollution is present, it can also help you better protect your hearing and strategize what actions would be needed to reduce neighborhood noise.


Follow Your Ears

Studies have found that traffic and transportation are often the primary contributors to noise pollution. Appliances, tools, neighbor noise and construction also all contribute to your local noise. When figuring out the best approach to handling noise pollution, base your strategy on where the pollution is coming from. After all, asking your neighbors to limit the volume on their television is a lot quicker and simpler than petitioning the city to build sound absorbent barriers for local trains.


Protect Yourself

If you live around noise pollution your first step is to protect yourself against noise-related hearing loss. Adequate hearing protection can help you preserve your hearing. While disposable foam earplugs offer basic noise reduction, reusable hearing protection offers better quality hearing protection. Earplugs and ear muffs that reduce noise exposure should come with an NRR rating. The lowest rating is around 20 and the highest NRR is 36. To figure out the amount of hearing protection an NRR rated product offers, subtract 7 from the number and divide that sum by 2. Earplugs with an NRR of 33 offer the user 13 dB of noise reduction. While that may not seem like a lot, a difference of just 10 dB can do a lot. Reducing sound levels from 95 dB to 85 dB ups safe exposure from 1 hour to 8 hours.


Advocate for Your Community

Monitoring the decibel levels around you can help shape larger actions as well, contributing to better neighborhood health and wellness. Knowing where noise pollution is coming from can help you advocate for effective noise management, like sound barriers for traffic and public transportation.

Knowing your neighborhood noise hazards can make better policy as well. You may want to advocate for enforced noise ordinances that help limit construction and other sound disruptions. Locally, work with your neighbors to create a quieter space for everyone. Noise pollution is a community issue, and it can disproportionately affect those with delicate hearing, such as aging adults and young children. In addition to advocating for a quieter environment, help educate your community about hearing loss.


Exceptional Hearing Care

Part of combating noise pollution is staying on top of your own hearing health. Luckily, Exceptional Hearing Care is here to help. We’ve been delivering the finest audiological care throughout the Phoenix from thorough exams to expert solutions. A change in the way you hear means it is time for a hearing checkup, so get in touch with Exceptional Hearing Care today for better hearing and a better you!

Bary E. Williams Au.D.
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