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Noise Pollution

Author: Dr Kelvin Klemm

( Article Type: Explanation )

There are different levels of noise all around us all of the time. When it appears to be very quiet there it still a background noise, even if it is crickets chirping or a gentle breeze blowing. All of the different day-to-day noises are collectively referred to as the ambient noise, or background noise. From one location to another the background or ambient noise is different. Sometimes a different or unusual noise can intrude and become irritating, such as a construction worker using a jackhammer next door. This noise intrusion is referred to as noise pollution. Noise pollution need not be loud to be irritating; for example, a diesel generator in the distance at night can produce a rhythmic sound that just feels wrong for that circumstance. Another type of noise pollution is an out-of-place sound even if it is not loud or rhythmic. For example, if you are sitting on the beach at night listening to the roaring of the surf breaking on the beach, this is pleasant and relaxing, but if someone nearby starts playing a radio, even if it is not too loud, this can become an intrusive irritating background noise, which is ‘noise pollution’ under those circumstances. At times noise pollution is not only irritating, but can become dangerous; for example, when trains pass near a building and the constant vibration leads to cracks and damage in the structure of the building. This vibration is passed through the ground as sound waves, but also through the air as low frequency sound waves which batter buildings. Generally speaking, noise pollution is rather subjective, being the opinions of people rather than a sound intensity measurement, in decibels, measured using audio-measuring instruments.