Home > Health & Safety > A Forgotten Type of Pollution

A Forgotten Type of Pollution


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Horns, diesel generators running all day long (unique solution to power outages), construction sites in every corner of Beirut (where buildings grow faster than trees), loud music while driving (“shou cool!”), jigsaws, heavy trucks, ill-timed alarms. Not to mention cell phones ringing when they shouldn’t … We are constantly affected by noise. However, few people know and care about the effect of everyday sounds on our health.

Intensity of sound is measured in decibels (dB). The scale runs from the faintest sound the human ear can detect., which is labeled 0 dB, to over 180 dB, the noise at a rocket pad during launch. Decibels are measured logarithmically. This means that as decibel intensity increases by units of 10, each increase is 10 times the lower figure. Thus, 20 decibel is 10 times the intensity of 10 decibels, and 50 decibels is 10,000 times as intense as 10 decibels.

Noise can be harmful:

– For the hearing: prolonged exposure to sounds of about 85dB is a major cause of damage to the ear on the long term. A one-time exposure to a very high noise leads to hearing fatigue. (This is the sensation of hearing loss experienced when you exit high noise areas such as nightclubs, concerts …). Although reversible in few hours, this feeling may, if repeated, cause serious impairment of hearing.

– It can cause sleep disturbance, leading to a high consumption of tranquilizers and sleeping pills … (can you sleep or relax amid the noise of a construction site, horns and shouts?).

– Cardiovascular disorders: there is a relationship between hypertension and exposure to loud sounds and sudden sounds of very low intensity. (Have you ever jumped at the sound of a horn, unexpected fireworks, and felt that your heart rate has increased for a while?). These effects are due to the fact that exposure to this kind of noise increases the secretion of certain hormones that can cause tachycardia (elevated heart rate) and hypertension.

– Irritability (does it explain a bit more the character of Lebanese?)

Protect yourself:

– At home, the double glazing is a good insulator.

– If you are obliged to work in a loud noise environment, use noise-canceling headphones.

Other measures, more difficult, are essential:

– Sound insulation, close to highways in particular.

– Some anti-noise laws are also welcome. If you have ideas please comment suggesting them!

You are advised to read more about hearing damaging and protection here.

Remember that the ear is a very fragile organ, and that damage is often irreversible.

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Categories: Health & Safety
  1. willis
    May 19, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    oh and don’t forget the sound of shots being fired from hunting rifles thanks to guys who shoot birds in trees in residential areas!

    • May 19, 2012 at 8:54 pm

      I don’t know if the sound of shots we hear are people hunting birds or people shooting after a politician has spoken. Anyway you’re right about that !

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