Noise pollution has been described as the modern plague, but sadly most people are not even aware of the level of noise pollution they endure daily. Modern city-dwellers are assaulted by a never-ending barrage of noise: the banging from a construction site, the whir of a passing train, the loud bar that has patrons spilling out onto the street. Our TV’s are loud, music is pumping in our cars and from our phones and rarely do we have just quiet.
Noise pollution is both physiologically and psychologically damaging. Studies have shown that noise pollution raises blood pressure and leads to hypertension, cardiovascular disease, irritability, sleep disruptions, and the obvious - hearing loss. Noise pollution damages the ear’s cochlea, which is the spiral cavity containing the organ of Corti, which produces nerve impulses in response to sound vibrations. Damage to the cochlea can lead to significantly impaired hearing, and even permanent hearing loss. source
Noise pollution is particularly damaging to children. Noise pollution can interfere with a child’s cognitive development, and cause them to have difficulties in forming and differentiating speech.
Studies have shown that children who learn in noisy classrooms, have delays in cognitive development, particularly in the fields of reading and writing (source). A child is vulnerable to noise pollution even while in the womb so it is vital that our children be given the quiet they need to process and contemplate the world, and develop properly.
Children are of course also the creators of noise pollution, with many schools cancelling or cutting down on playtime to avoid receiving a noise abatement order.
Noise is defined as an unwanted or unobjectionable sound with noise pollution being classified as three types: industrial, transport, and neighborhood.
Industrial noises are high intensity sounds produced by machines on construction sites or on a job site such as a mill or factory. Workers who regularly use loud machinery are particularly prone to health issues associated with industrial noise which is why safety codes require these employees to use hearing protective gear while operating machinery.
Transport noise is defined as traffic noise produced by automobiles, trains and airplanes. The increased number of cars on the road means that most city-dwellers suffer from noise pollution. Those who live near airports or railroads are especially at risk.
Neighbourhood noise refers to the disturbances that arise from the community itself and include loud music and other electronics. Sadly, the increasing number of electronic gadgets in households greatly increases neighbourhood noise. Barking dogs, intruder and vehicle alarms and general rowdiness of neighbours can also cause great annoyance for residents. Undue neighbourhood noise should be reported to the local authority who will investigate it further under the Noise and Statutory Nuisance Act 1993. For more information on the Act and how it may serve you, click here.
Noise is measured in decibel levels dB(A). DB(A) is measured on a progressive scale: 0 is silent, 60 is loud conversation, 100 is a blaring jackhammer, and 150 is a jet at takeoff. source
The Environmental Protection Act 1997 measures acceptable noise level by zone. For industrial areas falling into Zone A, 65 dB(A) is the maximum acceptable noise level, while residential areas in Zone G are limited to 45 dB(A). For Zones B (city and town centers) to Zone D (commercial areas), there is a sliding scale of acceptable noise pollution. As a rule, the less populated an area is, the more noise is tolerated. At night between 10pm-7am, the acceptable noise threshold is typically lowered by 10 to 15 dB(A). source
Fortunately, there are several measures that an urban resident can take to prevent unwanted sound from entering his home, and affecting his family’s well-being. The easiest way to reduce noise pollution is by installing triple glazed windows. The 3 layers of glass in a triple glazed unit significantly reduces the amount of noise that enters into a home. The 2 gaps between the glass is filled with Krypton gas [Kr] which further contributes to the unit’s sound insulation capabilities.
Because each layer muffles sounds as it travels through, the decibel level of the sound that is allowed to reach the inside of the home is much less than the original on the street.
Triple glazing has made great strides in blocking sound over its predecessor, double glazing. Double glazing typically uses two glass panels of glass, and produces a thickness of 28mm. In contrast, triple glazing’s three panes of glass produce a thickness of 44mm. Studies have shown that this increased thickness makes triple glazing 30% more effective than double glazing at blocking out noise pollution.
In spite of what is being claimed, a window cannot be transformed from double glazing to triple glazing by retrofitting and additional panel of glass. 3 layers of glass alone does not comprise triple glazing. Triple glazing is a complete unit that is manufactured in a strictly controlled environment. The gaps are filled with the insulating gas and then sealed to ensure the product’s efficiency.
While installing triple glazing is the most efficient option when it comes to sound insulation, here are a few other DIY options to increase your sound barrier to the outside world:
1) Sound-insulating cladding
Much as insulation blocks sound internally, cladding places an exterior barrier on the wall to block out sound. Typical materials include foam and rubber sheets, and wood panels. The interior wall between semi-detached homes can also be effectively insulated with sound-proof drywall.
2) Soft furnishings
Soft, plush couches aren’t just for lounging in: their padded material is excellent at absorbing the sound waves that enter your home. Thick carpets have much of the same effect. In contrast, hard surfaces and furnishings do not block noise, but may rather amplify it.
3) White noise
White noise uses a combination of sounds from all different frequencies to produce a neutral sound that masks all other sounds. In other words, you are using one sound to drown out the rest. Radio static is a great example of this. This works because the ear is no longer able to pick out a specific sound. Since white noise contains all types of sound frequencies, any frequency heard while playing white noise is no longer distinguishable.
4) Hang heavy curtains
Curtains can be a heavy physical barrier to the noise that enters from the street. Curtains of course have both light and sound insulating capabilities and the level of offensive light and noise will determine which type of fabric is most suitable. Light linen and sheers won’t do much to block anything out, but heavy lined velvet and damask will be very effective as a barrier between the window and the room. Consider interlining as well as block-out lining if you really want your curtains to absorb the outside noise.
5) Hang things on your walls
Most city-dwellers live in attached or semi-detached homes, or in apartments with neighbours in close proximity. Often, they have to suffer a neighbours’ quarrel because of noise travelling through the walls. Hanging paintings and other wall hangings can further contribute by absorbing some of these sounds.
You don’t have to grin and bear the noises that surround your home. Take action and sound proof your home to create a calm and noise-free environment for you and your family. source
Published on : 29th November 2016
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