Noise pollution was for a long time not considered as impactful as other manifest forms like air or water pollution etc. However, it has emerged as a major source of health hazard with the onset of various technological and industrial advancements.
It includes all the excessively loud sounds generated by different sources which negatively impact humans, plants and animals. Apart from health concerns it also has adverse effects on the natural soundscape and environment.
There are several different causes and sources of noise pollution. Due to an increase in the modernization of transport and vehicles, traffic has contributed greatly to noise levels. Similarly, the use of loud machines in various industries has been a big source of deafening noises.
The sound generated by aircraft, jets and railways is another alarming reality. The compressors use in various machines and electronic devices like AC, Refrigerators etc, are also contributors to levels of the nose in our environment.
Construction of buildings, highways etc has been a boon in terms of connectivity but has negatively impacted the natural levels of ambient sounds. Human festivals like Diwali, parades etc which use loud firecrackers do not help either.
With these and other causes come the grave consequences of noise pollution. It is a big source of irritation and distraction causing the avoidable level of anxiety, stress and fatigue. This is apparent in cases of expecting mothers, newborn babies and elderly people which are one of the most vulnerable groups.
There is an increased risk of hypertension, arrhythmia, psychological distress and problems. The biggest danger, of course, is the possibility of permanent deafness. Apart from health concerns, high noise levels impact animal behaviours like migratory habits, nesting and mating activities etc. In the case of plant life, noise can impede their productivity and biomass s production.
The dangers of noise pollution are clear and on the rise. Therefore, there is a need for smart solutions which are guarded by oversight and supervision. Banning of loud firecrackers, honing of horns at stalled traffic etc must be enforced.
Regulated levels of noise in special areas like hospitals, schools, elder care homes etc must be maintained. Afforestation and planting of trees must be promoted as they act as natural buffers for noise.
Translocation of industries, airports from residential areas is also a must. Design of sound-absorbing material and their use in construction should be incentivized and financed. Use of earmuffs and other protective devices is another expedient solution.
Together with these, there is a grave need for awareness and education. There must be an insistence on inculcating good habits in terms of sound use etc, in young children and even adult.
A multi-stakeholder conversation and discussion must be encouraged to come up with consensus-based solutions and not just top-down approach of law enforcement.