Noise Pollution

Why is noise pollution dangerous?

Music versus noise is a relative question, depending upon a person’s particular tastes, but for scientists, music has a spectrum with distinct peaks— that is a collection of identifiable frequencies. Noise, on the other hand has sound intensity at a wide variety of different wavelengths. No single frequencies have higher amplitudes. White noise has roughly equal sound intensities at all frequencies, while “pink noise” has most of the sound intensity at low frequencies and the intensity is smaller at high frequencies.

In the past, noise pollution was only thought to create health effects if the intensity was large enough to cause hearing damage. Studies over the past several decades, however, have found that long-term exposure to noise can cause potentially severe health problems—in addition to hearing loss—especially for young children. Constant levels of noise (even at low levels) can be enough to cause stress, which can lead to high blood pressure, insomnia, psychiatric problems, and can even impact memory and thinking skills in children. In a German study, scientists found that children living near the Munich Airport had higher levels of stress, which impaired their ability to learn, while children living further from the airport did not seem to experience the same problem.


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