The research on the impact of noise pollution on people’s health has been going on for decades. It has been subject to much debate and controversy, but there is no doubt that the effects are real.
The problems we face in this area are not just technical. Our goal is to design and build products which work as well in a quiet environment as they do in a noisy one. It’s a matter of constructing a system which responds appropriately to the environment: one which is flexible enough to deal with both quiet and noisy situations without compromising performance or functionality.
But getting there is difficult, because our society has become accustomed to having things be loud all the time, so our audio systems have rarely had time to build up a healthy acoustic buffer between themselves and the outside world. That’s why we have spent so long overcoming this problem: listening carefully to what people want and how they use our products allows us to design them as well as we can.
The Health Effects of Noise Pollution
If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a noisy person. If that’s the case, then you might want to consider why noise is a problem and what can be done about it.
The basics of noise pollution are very simple: loud sounds from outside interfere with your ability to hear other sounds within your environment. This interference can manifest itself in one of two ways:
1) Noise comes from sources outside your home (e.g., traffic)
2) Noise enters your home through an open window or door (e.g., an appliance such as a microwave), or from the noise coming from somewhere else in your home (e.g., another room).
There are a number of factors that can contribute to the amount and type of noise that makes it into your home, including:
• The size and shape of the room where you spend most of your time
• Location – how close to town you live to a highway or airport, how near neighbors smoke tobacco, how close to schools and public transportation the area is located, etc.
• Whether windows or doors are closed (or both)
• Whether pets are present in the household – especially cats or dogs that bark loudly at night
How loud is too loud? The experts aren’t quite sure yet; they use different threshold levels in different situations. What they do know is that levels above 80 decibels—a level at which people start feeling discomfort—are associated with hearing loss. The threshold for noise exposure varies depending on age (younger people have lower thresholds than older ones), gender and income level; for example, women have lower thresholds than men do so higher exposure rates tend to be found among women who work during pregnancy or who rely on public transportation during their pregnancies. However the recommendations remain the same: limit exposure when possible; install basic sound-dampening devices such as wall-mounted speakers or office door shutters when necessary; and keep children away from high-noise environments until they’re old enough to understand how loud noises affect them (and what they can do about it).
Reducing the Effects of Noise Pollution
The noise-health connection is not well understood, and it’s not hard to see why. In a noisy environment, sound carries over distances that are problematic for humans; there are also many other distractions to contend with such as automatic pilot, reflections from dust and glass, and the noise does not stop when you’re done with the task at hand.
For example, some people claim that music has a calming effect on them; others argue that it can be distracting; still others say that they don’t notice it. Personally I feel that music helps me get through stressful situations — if the music is loud enough to be heard by everyone else in the room then I can concentrate on what I need to do (which may be different from what others think).
However, there are many people who have found that noise pollution is harmful for them. A recent research paper published in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” found evidence of an association between noise levels and an increase in heart health problems like hypertension and high blood pressure. The paper also found evidence of an association between noise levels (along with other stressors) and mental health problems such as depression.
It seems reasonable to assume that one way in which noise pollution may cause harm is by interfering with our ability to focus on tasks we need to do — this could mean travelling more slowly or taking more breaks than we were used to doing. It could also mean sleeping less well because our sleep needs are disrupted. Other studies have shown that exposure to certain types of sound can actually interfere with sleep patterns such as REM cycles (which means dreaming) — or make sleep harder or even impossible for some people.
So now you know where I stand on this topic; here’s my take: loud noises pose a risk: they require listening carefully for a long period of time in order to hear clearly enough for the task at hand; they may disrupt our sleeping patterns or make us wake up later than usual because we had trouble falling asleep; they may have adverse effects on cognitive function overall because hearing loss can reduce our ability to think clearly; they may be stressful because they interrupt normal sleep cycles and push our circadian rhythms out of sync; they could disrupt REM cycles (the deepest part of sleep) which means we might dream less well while awake — so putting your headphones on during REM might actually be a bad idea!
The bottom line here is simple: loud noises are dangerous! So how do we
Noise can be an unpleasant, even distracting, experience for the user. In fact, noise is a major annoyance when it comes to hearing. It is often used as a weapon to make us feel uncomfortable, and for that reason, we must be extremely careful about what we do so as to not disturb our users.
In this article we will look at how noise can be used as a form of persuasion or coercion: what it is and why it can cause discomfort or even put users off using your product or service in the long run.