Living in noisy cities
But first, let’s start with the challenge, where it comes from and what impact it has. Hearing regularly sounds above 80 dB is not rare if you live in a big city. During the day, Mumbai and London can experience an average of 105 dB while Tokyo and Chicago can easily reach 95 dB. A survey among citizens of the EU showed that 80% of respondents, around 400 million people, believed that noise affects their health, either to some or to a great extent (WHO,2018). Traffic, public transportations, workplaces, machinery, loud music, and electronic devices can massively affect people’s well-being.
Noise pollution, in fact, is responsible for several health problems such as stress, anxiety and hearing loss. In particular, stress can lead to high blood pressure and increase the risk of heart disease. Living in the city and being constantly surrounded by noises influences our social behaviours with consequences of social isolation and negative feelings like anger or frustration. For all these reasons is important to be aware of the noise impact and take safety measures for a proper sound reduction.
When sound becomes noise
In order to address noise pollution, it’s important to be aware of different sound levels that can damage our health and ability to concentrate and work. In addition to dB levels, the duration and frequency of exposure to noises need to be taken into account. It means that a sound that is not initially perceived as too loud may affect anyway our mental and physical condition after a certain period of time.
What are the dangerous decibel sounds levels in our daily life? First of all, it must be said that some studies have identified noises above 80 dB as responsible for aggressive behaviour and 140 dB as the initial stage of physical pain. An ambulance siren, for example, is 120 dB while popping a toy balloon is 154 dB. Anyway, alarm clock, city traffic, and even a hairdryer are considered moderate loud sounds with an average of 90 dB.
World Health Organization
Environmental Noise Guidelines for the European Region (2018)