Noise Pollution: A Modern Plague

Lisa Goines, RN; Louis Hagler, MD


South Med J. 2007;100(3):287-294. 

In This Article

Effects of Multiple Sources of Noise Pollution

Most environments contain a combination of sounds from more than one source (eg, aircraft, motor vehicles, and trains). In urban environments, boom-cars, car horns, car alarms, and public transit systems may be the offenders. In suburban areas, leaf blowers, other power equipment, and barking dogs may be the source. There is, as yet, no consensus on a model for measuring total annoyance from multiple noise sources. Adverse health effects appear to be related to total noise exposure from all sources rather than the noise from any single source.

The evidence related to low-frequency noise is sufficiently strong to warrant immediate concern. It is a special concern because of its pervasive nature, because it arises from multiple sources, and because of its efficient propagation, which is essentially unimpeded by conventional methods of either building or ear protection. Adverse health effects from low-frequency noise are thought to be more severe than from other forms of community noise. This form of noise is underestimated with the usual types of sound measuring equipment.[32,44]

In residential populations, combined sources of noise pollution will lead to a combination of adverse effects such as impaired hearing; sleep disturbances; cardiovascular disturbances; interference at work, school, and home; and annoyance, among others. These effects are the result of stress from noise, stress that has been increasingly linked to illness.[2]


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