Take Heed! This Can Be Harmful to You and Your Family
Posted on December 13 2018
I’m talking about . . . . NOISE!
I am lucky! My home is in a lovely suburban community with a patio that overlooks a small lake on a golf course. It is picturesque, green, and serene. If I look out the window of my home office toward the road, often I would have to wait a half hour to see a car pass by.
Today is landscaper day. It happens periodically during the month when workers arrive with their lawnmowers, gas-powered hedge trimmers, and leaf blowers1. Today, our tranquility was destroyed by NOISE from that equipment. It was so loud, I left the office, returning now to write this after the landscapers left and after doing some research on Richard’s computer in another part of the house.
A few years ago, the World Health Organization (WHO) did a study on the disease from environmental noise. It used data from large statistical studies of such noise in Western Europe over a 10-year period.
The study analyzed environmental noise from vehicles, trains, and planes, as well as other city sources, and then connected it to health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, sleep disturbance, tinnitus, cognitive impairment in children, and annoyance. The WHO team used the information to calculate what is called the disability-adjusted life years (DALYS)—the years of life lost to unwanted human-induced dissonance.
The researchers found that more than one million healthy years of life are lost each year in Europe alone due to noise pollution. They concluded that “there is overwhelming evidence that exposure to environmental noise has adverse effects on the health of the population” and ranked traffic noise second among environmental threats to public health (the first being air pollution).
But transport vehicles and landscapers aren‘t the only sources of noise pollution. Here are some others that can affect those in proximity:
Industry: printing presses, textile mills, metal works.
Household: vacuum cleaners, loud music, washing machines, television sets, mixer-grinders, etc.
Public Address System: (I pity the workers in my local supermarket who are subjected to loud, shrill announcements throughout the day.)
Agricultural Machines: tractors, thrashers, powered tillers.
Miscellaneous: jackhammers, auto repair shops, construction works, bulldozing.
Other ailments caused by proximity to noise pollution are hearing impairment, irritability, Increased blood flow, hypertension, neurological disease, vision, dizziness, a decrease in the production of digestive juices, and exhaustion.
I protect myself; you can, too.
The best protection is avoidance. That’s what I did earlier today. I retreated from my home office to a quiet part of the house. I keep music and TV sound at conversation level (around 60 decibels), and I’m sure to keep the laundry room door closed when the washing machine is on. I use earplugs regularly.
I carry earplugs in my purse – never knowing when I might need them. Some time ago, while on a flight, the passenger next to me, who was a commercial pilot, noticed me inserting my earplugs. He reached into his bag and gave me an extra, unused pair of his, saying those were the ones most airline pilots use because they worked so well. He was right, so I bought a supply and have been using them ever since. Pictured here, they are called Comfort Plus by “The Safety Director.” (I snip off the connecting cord.)
Of course, employees, who are surrounded by heavy noise pollution at work all day, can’t avoid it, but they should protect themselves with earmuffs or earplugs, and their employer should provide them.
Damage from noise can be caused at levels of 85 decibels. The leaf blower being used outside my home office today had a noise level between 95 – 115 decibels at the worker’s ears, about 75 decibels 50 feet away. That poor fellow had no ear protection and every day he operates that machine, gas-powered hedge trimmers, and a lawn mower that also spews sickening fumes. I once bought a supply of surgical masks and gave some to the lawn workers explaining why they should wear them. They put the mask on that day, but I never saw them used again.
I spoke with the landscaping company’s owner. He said, he provides ear protection for his workers, but they refuse to use it. Given my experience with the surgical masks, I believe him, but I suggested it ought to be a rule, like construction workers and visitors to construction sites are required to wear safety helmets.
Protect yourself at all times!
1 NOTE: Some municipalities have passed ordinances against leaf blowers. In California, 79 cities either ban them completely or restrict their use. Some cities in the Northeast allow them to be used only in the Fall, others, spotted around the country, restrict their use to the time of day, or day of the week, or low decibel producing varieties.