Hello. Hello. It’s noise pollution here. I’m trying to reach you. — STOP! I’m sorry. I can’t hear you. I don’t want more noise pollution. Go away. Don’t come back.
If only we could get rid of noise pollution so easily. The fact of the matter is that it is a worldwide phenomenon.
It is on the rise.
Couple of Facts
- Dhaka, Bangladesh is the loudest city in the world with a noise level of 119dB.
- The Krakatoa volcanic eruption in 1883 created the loudest sound ever recorded at 180dB. 8-27-2019. (I found conflicting numbers for the decibels on this, 172, 180, 310)
- Blue Whale. This is the biggest and loudest animal in the world. Its mating calls can reach 188dB and can be heard for hundreds of miles underwater, disturbing other marine life.
- Wildlife affected by noise pollution includes: Communication — calls for danger alerts, attracting mates, or their own offspring; mating; navigation, foraging.
Distinctive Sounds I Have Experienced
Many years ago now, Paul and I went out for a Saturday lunch at Oga’s Restaurant on Windy Hill Road. Like so many of our favorite haunts, it’s no longer there. It was the best meat and two around. We have been unable to find anything remotely comparable.
So we’re walking toward the front door and out of the blue two or three jets from Dobbins Air Force Base were doing a maneuver/drill. It happened instantaneously and right above our heads.
They made a sharp turn and came back over us instantly. It was excruciatingly loud and the ear pain immediate. It felt as though razors had been inserted in my ears. The pain was so piercing.
Paul and I just stood there looking at each other in utter amazement. What was that all about? Nothing we could do. I’ll never forget that.
Now, a different tale of noise.
We took a trip to The Lost Sea Adventure in Sweetwater, Tennessee once. It’s two hours from Atlanta. America’s largest underground lake is here. We took the tour.
This included walking through the caverns and ended with a boat ride on the lake.
I don’t think I could do that now. As I’ve aged, I’ve become a tad claustrophobic. I’m afraid of things I didn’t used to be.
So we’re on these winding paths through the cave and all of a sudden we stop. The tour guide says he wants to show us how quiet and dark it gets there.
For about 10-15 seconds we were in complete silence and total darkness. I was glad when time was up.
Of course, we recognize and accept that loud, continuous noise can cause hearing loss.
Exposure to noise can cause stress, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, heart disease, and other health problems. I sure didn’t know that.
A whisper is about 30dB. Loud noise above 120dB can cause immediate harm to your ears.
I am becoming less and less tolerant and so much more aware. But what to do? Here are my nominees for loudest noisemakers that affect me:
- Gas-powered leaf blower — 80-90dB. About 100 cities in the U.S. have imposed complete or partial bans on leaf blowers. These cities are in CO, IL, NJ, TX, and VT
- Lawnmower — 90-95dB
- Chainsaw — 109dB, without proper hearing protection, running a chainsaw for only two minutes can cause hearing loss.
- Gas powered pressure washer — 100dB
- Weed-eater — 90dB
- Blow dryer — 80-90dB
- Air and car traffic
- Delivery and transport vehicles
- Sanitation services vehicles
I have noticed that our new young neighbors across the street use quiet tools and machines. Maybe there’s hope after all.
This is according to Mr. Piper about the Krakatoa volcanic eruption on August 27, 1883. The skies were blue with white puffy clouds. There was no sign of rain, but there were sounds of thunder.
Men were looking from their ships for signs of storms or foe. They saw nothing.
Reported decibel readings vary — 172dB, 180dB, and 310dB. Ever how many it is, it’s pretty much recognized as the loudest sound Mother Nature has ever made.
The loudest sounds created by humans were the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The decibel meter peaked at 210dB from 250 feet away.
At the source, the decibel level ranged from 250-280dB. Usually 150dB is enough to burst your eardrums. For death, it’s around 180-200dB.
Awful to say, but if the bomb doesn’t kill you, the sound will.
There’s just no escape from noise pollution. A running vacuum cleaner, the humming refrigerator, washing machine, dishwasher, dogs barking, cat meowing. Just part of life — one that can be noisy.
As much as I need new flooring, I just can’t invest in it yet. I don’t think it’s a good idea when you have aging animals.
When I do replace the flooring, I intend to get carpeting. I’m aware of the negatives on that, but I can’t help myself. Unfortunately, carpet doesn’t have the beauty of hardwoods.
One positive of carpeting is its quietness.
I like a quieter and softer ambience which carpeting provides. Plus I just love the feeling of coziness it brings.
Our house has no bells or whistles. I think it was built in 1973. The one thing it does have is solid wooden doors. Let me tell you, they can block out a lot of noise. I love them.
Sometimes when there is a lot of commotion and noise going on in the house or outside, I go to my room and close the door. Just a small piece of quiet helps a lot.
“Scientists have created the quietest place on earth, a concrete chamber where you can hear your blood move.”
After a few minutes, you’ll hear your own heartbeat. After another few minutes, you’ll hear your blood flowing and bones grinding. This reminds me of hearing my skull growing back together.
This quietness is in Building 87 in Redmond, Washington. It’s a Microsoft research lab at their headquarters. It took them two years to build it. The longest someone has stayed in this echo-free chamber is 55 minutes.
They describe it as ”where sound goes to die.”
Microsoft uses this lab to test sound equipment and other devices. Guinness World Records officially named this lab the quietest place on earth. 11-16-17
Silence as a weapon? Without a doubt, the acoustic weapon that those ”in the know” are concerned about is total silence.
An extremely violent form of destruction for an individual is sensory deprivation.
Reducing Some Noise
Just a few I ran across:
- Meditate — spend time in silence
- Minimize sound you have control over — TV and headphone volumes
- Wear hearing protection if you work in a noisy environment
- Covering windows with heavy drapes
- Noise cancelling headphones (I have a white noise cancelling machine next to my bed.)
- Cover floors with rugs
- Plant a tree
I had no idea how much noise and noise pollution impact our lives and the environment.
For me, noise, noise pollution, and silence surpass belief.
I think my unconscious spoke to me while writing. Maybe it’s why this painting is one of my favorites. Lots of times I need to cover my ears or I’ll scream!
As always, thank you so much for reading. If you are so inclined, please feel free to leave a comment.
“Too Loud! Top 10 Noisiest Cities in the World”
“The Quietest Places on Earth”
“Too Loud for Too Long – Vital Signs”
“Sound Advice: Protect Your Ears From Damaging Noise”
“4 Ways that Noise Pollution Can Impact Wildlife (and 4 Ways to Help)” By Sienna Malik, April 2021
“Can sound or silence be used to kill?” By Justin Moyer, July 2013