Sound directly evokes emotions and actions: one of the purposes of hearing is to alert and warn us about possible danger. However, when the sound becomes too loud or lasts too long, it can cause irritation and stress, becoming noise pollution.

Noise pollution is defined by the WHO as the “unwanted or harmful outdoor sound created by human activities, including noise from road, rail, airports and from industrial sites.” It’s the excess of sound that alters the normal conditions of the environment in a certain area. Although noise does not accumulate, move, or last over time like other types of pollution, it can also cause great damage to people’s quality of life if it is not well or adequately controlled.


The two types of noise pollution: natural and human-created.

Natural noise pollution refers to the sounds of animals and natural calamities; however, their effects are minimal and do not present major damage to human hearing. On the other hand, noise pollution created by man-made sources has negative effects on our health.

Man-made noise pollution refers to the excess of noise that alters the normal conditions of the environment. The noises caused by human activities such as traffic, industries, leisure facilities, airplanes, and ships, among others, can produce negative effects on the auditory, physical, and mental health of human beings. 


Noise pollution affects the environment

A study from 2019 demonstrates that noise pollution made by human activities also affects our environment and pollutes biodiversity.

It disrupts the lives of birds, whales, and other creatures. Animals use sounds for many reasons including navigating, finding food, attracting mates, and avoiding predators. Yet, noise pollution makes it difficult for them to accomplish these tasks, which affects their ability to survive.

Did you know that sound travels rapidly through the water — four times faster than through air? The impact of underwater noise pollution is more painful than anything else for animals. Most marine animals are alarmed by strange sounds and noise, triggering stress and impairing the animals’ immune system, which makes them more susceptible to illness.  This also disrupts normal communication between animals, which can cause changes in their diving or migration patterns. 

What group is most affected in my community?

According to the European Environment Agency, the following population sectors may be disproportionately affected by noise. 


How does noise pollution affect the body and brain?

Noise pollution can have a number of negative effects on our health. It’s important to be aware of its impact and how it affects our overall wellbeing. Noise exposure can cause sleep disturbances, while daytime noise exposure brings about annoyance and cognitive impairment.

Here are some areas that can affect it:

Action plans for noise control

Being aware of how to avoid or reduce noise pollution can be a great start to improving your current living conditions as well as your health. For the betterment of our health and environment, there are some small steps you may take to reduce it: