At this day and age, we are very aware of all kinds of pollutions: air, water, soil, radioactive. We’ve tackled most of them, or are in the process of doing it. Most cities in Europe will not have polluted water and soil. Air is perhaps the most talked about pollution of all. And then there’s noise pollution. Many people will know that loud noise is bad for you. With the invention of the first mp3 players, many mothers and fathers would have told their children that listening to music through it too loud will impair their hearing. Most people will know the feeling of coming out of a loud rock concert with a ringing feeling in their ears. But noise pollution is not just that, and it’s much more spread out than we think.
Noise is everywhere, especially in cities. For cities to work, there needs to be noise. It’s the constant traffic – people going from place A to place B. Any big city most likely will be developing, which means construction. We’ve all had neighbours that decide to renovate their apartment and would start drilling at 8 in the morning on a Sunday, very eager neighbours. So there’s always individual construction and commercial construction going on. A big city will also most likely have an airport. Planes make a lot of noise.
When you live in a city, you’re surrounded by noise, whether it’s noticeable or not. We also get used to noise that is not as extreme as loud drilling. People who live next to a rail station, after a while will stop noticing the trains coming and going. It’s part of a coping mechanism, we adapt to the environment we’re in. However, because we are so likely to adapt, we don’t stop and think about all the noise-caused harm. For example – studies show that children who attend schools in noisy areas are most likely to be behind and have worse academic performance than those that study in a quiet environment. There is also an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. Noise is stress, especially when you can’t control it. The stress hormones change the composition of our blood and the structure of our blood vessels. While there are numerous studies that show a connection between increased noise and heart attacks, strokes and increased heart rate, the danger is still considered to be relatively low. That is because most of us are not experiencing sky-high decibel banging every day. But this is where the danger lays.
Noise is ubiquitous; it’s everywhere. We can’t escape it.
That’s why we need to know where it’s coming from and what exactly it does to us. Measuring specific sound by decibels is great; it gives a straight answer to a straight question. But how about those ‘noisy’ areas in a city where schools are located? Is it just the regular city noise that can’t be changed? Surely that city noise consists of multiple individual noises that CAN be changed, but for that we need data. Lots and lots of data. And that is what we’re trying to do. Data is gold. A doctor would not start to operate on a patient that hasn’t had his blood tests done (unless it’s an emergency); most serious actions require inspections and analysis. Noise might seem as the least dangerous pollutions of them all, but in reality it’s incredibly harmful. It can hide from you, it can travel and hit you when you least expect it, but it for sure is making constant damage. Let’s change that.