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Noise Pollution and Health

Prabhat Kumar, Kailash Sharma, F.A. Ansari

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Increasing urbanization and industrialization creates a lot of problems on environment as well as on our health. Water and Air pollution are referred as major environmental pollution and get a great attention of researchers. But now days, researcher also get much attention towards noise pollution research because it also play a important role to effects environment health.

Noise is unpleasant and undesirable sound at unwanted place, e.g. (i) Suppose a sweet music which is pleasant sound for one ear and unpleasant to second ear, acts as noise to second ear. (ii) A good music in school where children are concentrating in their studies acts as noise.

Noise levels are measured in Decibels (dB), One decibel is the threshold of hearing. Approximately 60 dB is the level of normal talking.

Sources of noise are divided into two categories:

Industrial sources: Noise created from industrial activity termed as Industrial source chimneys noise , different machines noise etc. .

Non Industrial sources: Noise created from other than industrial activity , termed as Non -Industrial source e.g. loudspeaker noise , traffic , automobiles , airplanes , construction works sound etc. .

Effects of noise exposure on human health:

1) Loss of hearing: Hearing plays an important role in behavioral and psychological activity of humans. Hearing loss is one of the most important consequence of noise exposure. There is two type of hearing loss in humans which is caused by noise exposure.

  1. Temporary threshold shift (TTS): It is the partial hearing loss which is recovered within few hours upto four weeks. It depends upon the length of exposure of noise.
  2. Noise Induced permanent Threshold Shift (NIPTS): It is the total hearing loss, which has not recovered. The exposure of noise above 105 dB of 8 hours/day for several years causes NITPS

2) Sleeping Disturbance: Sleeping is one of the most important phenomenon reflects the different physiological and psychological activity in humans. A number of studies shows that the exposure of noise causes to fall asleep and less in deep sleep activity. Vallet (1979) resulted that with the noise from highway, subjects took longer to fall asleep and had less deep sleep so that the young to middle aged groups become more like the 50 – 60 year old group in their depth of sleep. Holland – Wegman (1967) concluded that there was 50% more people awakened by airplanes noise than any other noise.

3) Cardiovascular Effect and Hypertension: Cardiovascular Effect and Hypertension cause loss in daily life performance and lead to premature death Tomei et al (1991) correlated the Cardiovascular effects with noise intensity , type and duration of exposure and resulted that there was prevalence of electrocardiogram abnormalities in pilot exposed to higher noise intensity. Also indicated that the higher hypertensive response to noise in hypersensitive pilots suggested the basal hypertension was not responsible for the effects.

4) Performance Effect: Noise exposure also causes to change in psychological and behavioral activity of man. It is also seen that a person subjects to the noise exposure shows irritating behavior. Masser et al (1978) reported that children who attend school beneath the Seattle Tacoma airport in fly pathways in-flight paths showed a deficit on standardize tests of scholastic achievement compared to students in quite school. Jenkins et al (1979) concluded that the highest admission rate in London Institute of Psychiatry, was found in people living area close to airport. Cohen et al (1981) resulted that the reading and math’s scores of third grade student in noise abated classroom were without that quality.

5) Effect on Blood Pressure and Heart Rate: A number of researches showed the close relationship between noise exposure to Blood Pressure. Peterson et al (1981) showed the elevation of blood pressure on noise exposure in Rhesus monkeys . Singh et al (1982) compared the individual exposed to noise in the work place with unexposed individuals and found that B.P. and heart rate were significantly higher in noise exposed individuals , in addition 18% of the noise exposed individuals had irregular cardiac rhythms .Johsson and Hansson (1997) reported that male worker with noise induced hearing loss had higher SBP and DBP than subjects with normal hearing.


Department of Chemistry, University of Lucknow, Lucknow. F.A. Ansari - Industrial Toxicology Research Center, Lucknow

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