Air pollution is one of the major health and environmental concerns in cities. However, another concern that’s plaguing cities is the invisible threat called noise pollution. Although it sounds harmless, the European Environment Agency says that long-term exposure to noise pollution can cause 12,000 premature deaths and 48,000 new cases of ischemic heart disease annually in Europe alone.
What is noise pollution?
Noise pollution is excessive amounts of noise from a wide range of sources in cities. These include aircraft, trains, automobiles, motorcycles, construction equipment, home appliances, loud music, nightlife, and even barking dogs. Transport, machines, and propagation systems are the main causes of outdoor noise globally.
When exposed to noise pollution for long periods, people could experience damaged eardrums, loss of hearing, increased blood pressure, headache, sleep disturbance, and fatigue. Noise pollution can also make pets and animals more aggressive.
Other studies also showed that noise pollution can cause negative effects on a person’s cardiovascular system and metabolism, reduced cognitive performance in children, and severe annoyance and sleep disturbance. Some of the world’s noisiest cities include Mumbai, Cairo, New York, Tokyo, and Shanghai.
How to reduce noise pollution in cities
1. Ride electric vehicles
One of the ways on how to reduce noise pollution on roads is using electric vehicles, such as electric cars, electric scooters, and electric buses. These vehicles do not contain an engine, which makes them a quiet alternative to traditional vehicles.
Besides this, electric vehicles don’t need to use fuel, so it doesn’t emit any harmful gases into the atmosphere. These are not only noise-free vehicles but also eco-friendly and sustainable ways to travel.
Invest in electric cars, use electric scooters for commuting, or support and push for electric buses in your city. This will reduce noise pollution and promote sustainable mobility in cities.
2. Lubricate machines frequently
Whether it’s a car, scooter or construction machine, lubricating machine parts will not only maintain the machine but also reduce the noise from its moving parts. After all, lubricants prevent the moving parts from rubbing against each other, creating noise, and breaking down.
This is especially helpful for construction work since it creates one of the loudest noises in cities. Equipment operators should frequently inspect their machinery and lubricate them regularly or as needed.
3. Replace old vehicles
One significant source of noise pollution in cities are old vehicles. Because of the old engine and moving parts, it creates more noise than new vehicles. Lubricants may somehow lessen the noise, but ultimately, it is already the engine itself that causes the noise. Sometimes, old vehicles can even create deafening sounds. Replacing old vehicles with new ones will lessen noise pollution and lower soot emissions in cities.
4. Turn off electrical appliances
When appliances and electrical items are not in use, they still produce that can be barely audible or quite high-pitched. Moreover, game systems, televisions, and computers can contribute to noise pollution when played in a high volume setting.
To reduce noise pollution at home and avoid contributing to the overall noise, turn off and unplug appliances when not in use, and keep sounds and music at moderate volume. Doing this regularly will also help you reduce your energy consumption and lower your electricity bill, which is a win-win for all.
5. Create a “no horn zone”
When you think of cities, the sound that immediately comes to your head is loud horns from cars and trucks. After all, horns from these vehicles are one of the major contributors to noise pollution in cities.
Residents should urge cities or municipalities to implement “no horn zones” to prevent drivers from honking their vehicles, especially for no reason. These zones can be placed within or near schools, hospitals, and residential areas.
As a driver, it is also your responsibility to reduce this noise pollution by using vehicle horns accordingly. This way, there’s less stress on the road and less disturbance within homes and establishments.
6. Plant trees
Living in cities means that there’s less flora in the area. Planting more trees, plants, or bushes on your property can help reduce noise levels in cities. Vegetation does this through sound attenuation, a phenomenon that reduces sound intensity.
Parts of trees and plants absorb and deflect sound energy, reducing noise from transportation, machines, and more. Moreover, rustling leaves, creaking stems, and the sounds of birds and wildlife all help mask noise pollution.
If you live in an apartment, growing plants in pots on the balcony or indoors can also help reduce noise pollution. Having more plants and trees is also a great way to clean the air in cities.
7. Be a good neighbour
Finally, it’s everyone’s responsibility to be mindful of their surroundings. Make sure not to disturb neighbours with loud parties and barking dogs, among others. Moreover, keep your doors shut or soundproof your home if you really need to amp up the volume on your radio or TV. Being mindful of each other will be an easy and practical way to reduce noise pollution.
Living a peaceful city life
Although the hustle and bustle make cities what they are, people don’t need to live in a noisy environment all the time. Moreover, notice how lessening noise can also help reduce energy consumption and air pollution. Reducing noise pollution will not only affect people but also the environment.