Noise Pollution, Strong Risk Factor

It has been estimated that condition of the environment is responsible for 25-33 per cent of diseases in Europe
As soon as the Ecology section opened on PRAVDA.Ru, it immediately attracted new information partners. Ecological journalist from Belarus Vitaly Lipik, one of the participants of the Russian Ecology – 2003 assembly in the city of Kazan (at that very assembly the idea to open the section on PRAVDA.Ru was suggested) offers the story as the beginning of the section. So, we would like to touch upon an issue that is actually very important for people, about health. Disputes about what is healthy and what is harmful for people seem to be endless. Let's make less noise as acoustic contamination is extremely dangerous.   

The European Commission in Brussels estimated the impact of environment contamination upon the human health and now the Commission is developing a plan meant for reduction of the sickness rate caused by environmental pollution. It has been estimated that condition of the environment is responsible for 25-33 per cent of diseases in Europe in general. About 60,000 of death instances registered in large European cities annually are connected with steady air pollution. Children's mortality and sickness rate is extremely alarming. The first session of a working commission dedicated to the problem took place in Brussels last month.  A long-term strategy is being developed for the period till 2010; it provides for complex researches of the impact of air, soil and water pollution upon human health. The work of the commission is based upon the principle of separate or complex impact of different pollutants upon the sickness rate. One of the main trends of the strategy is to study the complex impact of particularly dangerous pollutants such as dioxins, heavy metals and agents causing hormone disorders in children's health. The researches are expected to widely apply the bioindication method, in other words it is supposed to use natural indicators such as moss, lichen, some plants and animalcular living organisms that are extremely susceptible to environmental pollution to estimate the level of pollution. What is more, four major groups of diseases or pathologies have been singled out especially for a thorough supervision. These are children's respiratory diseases, psychic development disorders, endocrine system disorders and children's malignant new growths. Main objective of this work is to put up a barrier to diseases related to environmental pollution.

It is important that environment can be seriously polluted even with noise. What is acoustic pollution? What do people have to pay for the noise impact and can we actually get used to noise?  Noise is the erratic combination of noises different by their strength and frequency. In the modern life almost everything around us can be a source of noise. 60-80 per cent of noise in the city is emitted by auto transport. The rest amount of noise falls on railwaytransport, factories and plants. If it has no obstacles on its way, the noise level decreases proportionally to the squared distance from the source of the noise. Such climatic factors as temperature, humidity, strength of wind and fog can influence spreading of noises. This is rather difficult to determine the impact of noise upon the human organism as negative changes of human health caused by acoustic pollution reveal
just in several years.

Over the whole period when the noise impact upon people was studied the following hygienic norms were fixed: the noise strength mustn't exceed (according to different sources) 30-40 decibel near the walls of apartment buildings at night; 50 decibel during daylight hours; the norm for workplaces is 70-80 decibel. For instance, the noise emitted by a lathe is 90 decibel, by a sheet-metal press – 100 decibel, a jet engine – 120 decibel and the pain threshold of man's ears is 130 decibel. To compare, the noise caused by movements and conversations of people in a large store is 60 decibel and by grass rustling – 5 decibel.

Noise is one of those factors to which people cannot get used. You may think that you have got used to noise; however noise pollution ruins people's health if it constantly exerts influence upon people. Noise is a harmful industrial factor responsible for 15 per cent of all occupational diseases. Acoustic pollution has an unfavorable impact upon all systems of the human organism; the nervous, the cardiovascular system and the digestive apparatus are the first that suffer. There is dependence between the disease incidence and a period within which a man lived under acoustic pollution. It has been noted that diseases increase after 8-10 years of the constant impact of noise that is stronger than 70 decibel. The city noise is one of the causes of essential hypertension and ischemic heart-disease. The impact of noise relaxes attention, reduces the exercise and mental performance. The constant impact of noise of over 80 decibel causes gastritis and stomach ulcer. Thus, noise causes the most outstanding diseases of the industrial society.

People can protect themselves from noise only if they get out of the city. The only way-out we have in city apartments is acoustic insulation. Many of modern construction materials offer this solution of the problem. Protection from noise requires new solutions for usage of acoustic insulation materials in design of building, industrial equipment and transport vehicles. Considerable effect in fighting with noise pollution can be achieved through efficient planning of building up and accomplishment of residential areas. Even a narrow line of bushes along the road helps slightly disperse and absorb the noise.

People in their turn also can reduce the noise impact they produce; for instance, make the noise of TV sets and music centers lower. Indeed, this is essential for people's health.

Vitaly Lipik

Author`s name Michael Simpson