The Alarming Facts About How Noise Can Affect Your Health
Much like smoking, a sedentary lifestyle, and overeating, constant exposure to ambient noise can cause health issues
Noise is everywhere in the modern world and always has been. What has changed in the last century or so is the increasingly high amount of it that we have to endure?
While you may not think that you experience too much noise in a typical day, you may actually be constantly subjected to potentially damaging levels of sound – depending on where you live and where you work. For example, people in the center of Manhattan are continuously exposed to over 90 decibels of sound – five decibels more than you should experience for any period longer than 2 hours, according to experts.
In addition to being annoying and a source of distraction, all of this noise exposure can have a drastic, negative impact on your well-being.
The psychological effects of noise
After enough exposure, extreme levels of noise can, of course, produce permanent ear damage. For this reason, noise is actually the most common cause of workplace injury.
Even at comparatively low levels or for limited periods of time, a lot of noise is a source of distraction, particularly while working in fields involving manual labor. Consequently, a work environment can hemorrhage efficiency and experience increased injuries, simply because of sound.
Another notable effect of a lot of noise is how it contributes to stress. The link between the two is well-known, but what many don’t know is how this noise stress can affect your mind in other ways.
Noise-induced stress can negatively affect learning, reduce your brain’s ability to function well, and interrupt sleep. This can cause irritability and unnatural fatigue, plus contribute to a variety of other health conditions.
The physiological effects of noise
The most obvious effect of noise exposure is progressive hearing loss and eventually deafness. In fact, OSHA states that employees receive up to $242 million a year in workers’ compensation for hearing loss.
Even in cases where workers don’t experience dramatic levels of persistent hearing loss, tinnitus (a constant ringing in the ears) is one of the most constantly-reported problems in any work environment.
However, there are far more physical problems caused by noise than those that involve the hearing.
Noise has been linked to contributing to a variety of cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension and ischemic heart disease – and it may even possibly compromise the immune system. Since consistent exposure to loud sounds can increase stress, you’re also likely to endure pervasive increases in cortisol production. This stress hormone makes thinking clearly difficult and impairs memory retention, and it also may leave you more susceptible to heart attacks.
Some research has even shown that extreme noise can also lead to low birth weight and contribute to other complications in pregnant women.
Solutions to the noise problem
It is relatively easy to reduce the amount of noise pollution in your living space to a healthy level of just 70 decibels. However, trying to avoid excessive noise can prove especially challenging in the workplace.
Ambient noise in any environment has several sources, but the most common – especially if you work in construction, landscaping, or a similar occupation – is from fossil-fuel-powered equipment. In fact, the direct effects of injuries specifically caused by combustion engine equipment have been extensively documented.
For just one example, an idling bulldozer generates 85 decibels, while an active machine can generate far more ear-damaging noise.
While some governmental regulations may limit the amount of noise you might be exposed to while commuting between locations or doing your job, more than likely you’re exposed to far more sound than you should.
Fortunately, dealing with the effects of workplace noise is becoming less of a job hazard.
Battery-powered construction and landscaping equipment is becoming a lot more common on job sites. And Triple E Equipment features quiet, battery-powered tools that will reduce overall noise – especially in indoor jobs – including multi-use mini skid steers and our electric wheelbarrows.
To learn even more about our products and the other ways they’ll help your business, contact us for more information.