“Hey you! Turn that music down! Don’t you know it’s bad for your ears?”
We’ve all heard it from someone in our lives, a parent who’s tired of listening to your music choices, a neighbour trying to sleep, or someone just trying to be annoying. Whatever their reasons, there is some truth in those words. High levels of noise, especially over longer periods, can cause significant damage to our ears. That’s why, in our quest to educate and entertain, sometimes simultaneously, we’ve cobbled together our top 10 facts about pesky noise pollution.
1. It doesn’t have to be direct
One of the biggest misconceptions is that the only way to be affected is by having noise directly sent into your eardrums, that just isn’t right. All kinds of background noise can be counted as noise pollution. For the civvies this can mean planes, loud cars and other vehicles. For the tradies this usually means heavy machinery and drills.
2. Construction is the 3rd loudest work environment
Possibly not the most surprising fact given the amount of machinery on sites, but construction only comes behind mining and manufacturing on the list of loudest work environments. It’s no surprise that these three industries are looking for ways to improve the way they handle noise pollution really.
3. It’s the top cause for hearing loss
This one might be a shock for all those who thought age was the biggest reason for hearing loss, but age only makes your eardrums more vulnerable to noise pollution, and it’s the noise pollution that actually ranks as the top cause for hearing loss. This is why elderly care places such focus on minimising noise in care homes, as the elderly are at much higher risk of damage.
4. It can affect your sleep
If you live under a flight path, near a train station, or just off a major road, you should definitely be investing in combating noise pollution. Living or working near constant sources of noise can disturb your sleep patterns, and every tradie needs their beauty sleep. It can also lead to fatigue, anxiety, and general grumpiness if not dealt with.
5. Certain sounds can actually raise your blood pressure
And no, we’re not talking about that one person’s voice, although it is horrific to be fair. Particularly road traffic related noise pollution can actually interfere with blood pressure, usually having the effect of raising it. However, some cases have seen blood pressure develop irregular patterns as a result of long-term exposure to the noise.
6. It might be the hidden cause for your headaches
While we know there are other noises that can cause headaches, we’re talking about noise pollution causing two specific types of headache. Chronic and episodic tension headaches to be precise. These headaches are caused by long-term exposure to noise pollution and can take months to recover from.
7. Getting away from the noise can help your ear recover
Scientists, the clever boffins that they are, have discovered that while noise pollution can have long-term effects, escaping the noise can do so much in helping your ears to start on the recovery process. While there are medical ways to slowly undo the damage, the easiest way to start is just to properly protect your ears or simply remove yourself from the noise.
8. Even a simple set of earplugs will do wonders
The thing is, with noise pollution, is that there are some really simple solutions that can do absolute wonders. We’re sure every site already has rules on ear protection, but even if you’re not right next to the machinery, it’s good to be protecting your ears anyway, just in case.
9. The damage can be slowly repaired
Some very smart scientists at the University of California discovered in an experiment that damage to eardrums can slowly recover naturally if the damaging noise is avoided. Especially important for the younger tradies, this means that with proper care, long-term damage can be well avoided.
10. It can affect much more than you think
Noise pollution, as we’ve seen, can go much further than the ears. It affects the head, the heart and maybe even the soul. What’s more important is how it can affect even people not directly involved in construction. People living near sites may be affected by background noise, and children can be deeply affected in their development by excess noise. That’s why we believe it’s so important for the industry as a whole to take noise pollution seriously, and to do what it can to minimise the damage.