The noise that bothers you on a daily basis, like those often heard while commuting via subway train, can cause more than simple irritation. According to a study, noise pollution can also negatively impact your health.
A new study by researchers from the University of Toronto posits that while the various sounds that you hear while walking, cycling, driving, or commuting are often within safe exposure levels, sudden bursts of noise can cause long-term hearing loss and other health problems. Cyclists are especially at high risk, and the study even states that cycling as the activity to have the most potential to damage hearing. (Related: Links between Noise Pollution and Ill-Health.)
Dr. Vincent Lin, an associate professor in the Faculty of Medicine and one of the study’s authors, shared: “We knew it was going to be noisy but I was surprised with the frequency of the peaks.”
Using measuring devices attached to their collars, the scientists gathered noise data in the city on weekdays between April and August 2016. They rode subways, buses, streetcars, and bikes or walked. The study’s results revealed that the recommended limit on noise exposure had “exceeded in nine percent of subway measurements, 12 percent of bus measurements and 14 percent of biking measurements.”
Lid added that based on the research, Keele, Dufferin, Spadina, and Bay subway stations were the loudest.
The authors of the study warned that sudden exposure to loud noises could lead to other health concerns aside from deafness. Lin concluded: “We now are starting to understand that chronic excessive noise exposure leads to significant systemic pathology, such as depression, anxiety, increased risk of chronic diseases and increased accident risk.”
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Tips to reduce noise pollution
While there’s not much that you can do to minimize noise pollution levels from subway stations, you can try the tips listed below to eliminate excess noise at home or at work:
Turn off your gadgets – The devices in your home or workplace all make noise, even when they’re not in use. Computers, game systems, televisions, etc. are still a source of excess noise while in standby mode. Always turn off gadgets when they’re not in use — this can also help lower your electric bill.
Soundproof your space – You don’t have to spend too much when soundproofing rooms. Use some rugs to dampen sound for hard floors. Install better windows, seal window frames, or hang thick curtains (even thin ones will do) to help reduce the sound coming from outside. If you have noisy neighbors on one side of your room, try to put furniture or a big bookshelf full of books against that wall. For laundry machines in a separate room, always shut the door.
Try to mask or cancel noise – You can do this through various means. Hang some wind chimes, turn on a fan, or get a small water feature. You can use other sources of sound to mask more unpleasant noise around you.
Wear earplugs if all else fails – While earplugs can’t always block out all the noise, they can help bring sounds “down to a manageable level.”
While music can often help us tune out noise, try limiting the volume of your electronic devices, especially when you are wearing headphones. Hearing loss can be caused by cumulative noise over time, and there is no way to reverse it. Never turn up the volume higher than you need to hear it. If you can’t hear because of the noise around you, consider buying a pair of noise-canceling headphones.
Read more articles on how to minimize noise pollution at GreenLivingNews.com.