What the impact of noise pollution?

Noise Pollution - 2nd Largest Environmental Cause Of Health Problem

Mention pollution and we often think about smog-filled cities or an ocean choking on plastic. However, pollution goes beyond air and water. With rising urbanisation and population density, noise pollution is increasingly a global concern. In fact, according to the WHO, noise is the 2nd largest environmental cause of health problems.

Singapore Context

Today, in cities across the globe, houses and offices are often built in tight proximity to each other. This is especially true for a land-scarce nation like Singapore, which has one of the highest population densities worldwide

Most residents live in high-rise flats. And the everyday sounds of children laughing, babies crying, loud music, TV, pets or mahjong sessions are part of the fabric of life. The downside of all this is that Singapore ranks as one of the top 20 most noise polluted cities in the world.

What is noise pollution?

Noise pollution is any unwanted noise or disturbing sound that affects the health and well-being of humans and other organisms. As noises above 75 decibels (dB) are harmful to humans, the World Health Organisation (WHO) defines noises above 65dB as noise pollution.  

Meanwhile, the WHO also recommends daytime exposure to noise be less than 65dB, and night-time exposure of less than 40dB. This guideline has been implemented in Europe after research showed that persons exposed to higher level of noise over the years can suffer mild health effects such as sleep disturbance and insomnia.

Noise pollution impact on health

Despite this, many people do not realise how big a problem noise pollution is and how it impacts their physical and mental wellness. Research by the European Environment Agency (EEA) indicates that noise pollution contributes to about 48,000 new cases of ischaemic heart disease and 12,000 premature deaths per year.

Children who are exposed to noise regularly tend to experience a decline in their cognitive abilities. This will then impact their reading, learning and understanding. Noise at night also cause sleep deprivation or disturbance which in turn can adversely affect a person’s alertness and performance at work. Longer-term, it also lead to medical conditions such as chronic fatigue, mental wellness, hypertension and diabetes.

What is the government doing to help?

Aside from health issues, privacy is another key reason why soundproofing is so critical today. With apartments built so close to each other, voices usually leak between homes. In 2015, the Housing Development Board (HDB) inked a research agreement with 3M Singapore to study suitable materials for walls and floors to absorb, reflect and reduce noise. This could potentially help to reduce noise in HDB flats and allow Singaporeans to enjoy more privacy in the future.

What can I do now?

Effective sound proofing can enhance our quality of life. With durable, expertly fitted, weathertight windows and doors, soundproofing specialists such as Noise Plaster can block out much of the noise. Which could help improve our communication, health, safety, privacy and personal development, allowing us and our loved ones to live better and healthier. The benefits in terms of long-term physical and mental wellness cannot be underestimated.