When the topic of pollution comes about, most people usually attribute it to air pollution. Air pollution is usually the first thing people think of because it is the highly debated form of pollution that occurs in most urban settings. What some people may not realize is that it is only one form of pollution that takes place. Pollution also exists in soil, water, light and noise. While these topics are known, some are not as readily discussed as much as the others. Noise pollution is often a topic not mentioned though is a problem in a lot of cities in the world.
Through many years, many cities have seen the problem and have either added to it or made solutions to contain or reduce it. Noise pollution, while not always the most prevalent form of pollution discussed, is an important factor in the sustainability of a city and its citizens. In order to begin to discuss how noise pollution is important to the city it has to be defined. The definition of the word “noise” according to the Merrian-Webster’s dictionary is “any sound that is undesired or interferes with one’s hearing of something. So for something to be polluted of noise is for it to be disturbed by sounds from someone or something. You can attribute the phrase “noise pollution” to just about anything. If you are in a crowded room with everyone talking, the room is being polluted by noise. This same concept comes when you are defining noise pollution to a city. What in a city causes it to be surrounded by noise? In reality, almost everything in a city in one way or another contributes to noise pollution. Around the world, most major cities have tried their best to add all the things that most other major cities have and sustain it as best as possible.
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Things like public transportation, land usage, businesses, and highways are just certain factors that are made to create a city into a striving place that can prosper and be a model to other areas of interest. All these things bring the problem that most major cities face, including noise pollution. So what are the biggest factors that contribute to air pollution? The biggest contributors are when cities are nearby highways with traffic, airports, railroads, manufacturing plants or factories, areas of construction or destruction and even things like open concert venues Mayntz). Most cities have these structures centralized in their areas or very close to the area. Something these parts of the city have in common is amount of noise they produce. Vehicles in highways are making noise while they drive, planes with huge engines leaving and entering airports have high rates of sound, construction and destruction is noisy, trains are loud, factories usually have some noise from machinery and concerts are meant to play loud music.
All these factors combined create in themselves a single loud noise that can surround their area. Though noise is a daily occurrence in most people’s lives, it is important that we see why it is a problem amongst people and a city as a whole. What some people don’t realize is that noise pollution is like air pollution and water pollution. It can have effects on the health and mental state of people living in and around cities that have issues with it. There have been many studies that have linked noise pollution with different type of health issues.
Many people who live near cities that have high amounts of noise pollution often incur stress related illnesses, high blood pressure, hearing loss, sleep reduction, and even speech interference (EPA 1). Perhaps the most evident health issue that people have Noise Induced Hear Loss, or NIHL. Though many things in someone’s life can lead to a reduction in their hearing, many connections have been made toward noise pollution in cities have made the likeliness of it more prevalent (Suter 14).
While noise pollution will not cause these things in everyone who lives near city or goes to one a lot in their life, the many connections made in many cities around the world to people who have some of these issues is very evident. By causing health and mental issues to the people, it then goes on to affect how a city is built and ran, or how it would have to change how it is going to stop it. The first part in how noise pollution is important to a city is on where it is created. As stated earlier, a large contributor to noise problems are highways.
When creating a city that wants to be highly impacted by those who commute from places like suburbs or the countryside, there will need to be some sort of highway to get people there. That’s why most major cities have multiple highways or freeways that are nearby or even pass through them. With the amount of traffic the highways could endure, noise eventually rises. Poor planning on a city is how they maintain the noise pollution that comes from a highway. Reducing speed limits has shown to make a gradual decrease in noise.
The problems that cities face when trying to reduce speeds is in more traffic congestion, which leads to poor transportation and air pollution. Many cities still seem to support the call for the end to noise pollution. Recently, many people who are living in cities near highways in Switzerland are lobbying heavily to make regulations on noise pollutions from highways stricter. They are calling for more sound-proof barriers along the highways, which is also something done to reduce noises from traffic. It is quite staggering how much people are willing to stop noise pollution at all cost.
There have been many countries in Europe that have even been willing to pay more on their taxes to have their money go towards efforts that would reduce noise pollutions in their cities. In 2005, residents in urban developments near Spain were willing to pay four Euros per decibel a year to reduce noise in their neighborhoods (Viladrich-Grau 1). This not just meant highway reduction but also railroad noise and airport traffic. This leads into another problem with poor planning in cities and noise pollution: neighborhoods. Many large cities have begun to build more residential areas in the area of the downtown metropolitan areas.
Housing in the area is made to cut some commuting for some people. The tradeoff can be that they must endure the noise pollution that the city can cause. Most suburbs aren’t even that safe from the causes of noise pollution. Looking at just here in Los Angeles County there are many cities that reside next to highways and railroads. There are even some that are within miles of airports, such as Bob Hope Airport in Burbank. Burbank is a city north of Los Angeles that has many residential areas and other cities with residential areas.
There are many examples of areas that have these problems, especially dealing with the sounds coming from loud jets in airports. Tons of residents in the cities surrounding London’s Heathrow Airport made complaints of problems from jets, but little has still been done to change the effects from it. Road and airport noise are the biggest concerns when it comes to noise pollution. When cities begin to grow, we eventually grow into people living near or using these things every day. Cities have to deal with noise pollution no matter what.
There have been some very famous cases of residents or local governments trying to fight noise pollution and the effects it has. Most new cities cannot avoid having noise problems, it is something that is almost inevitable with cities as they try to become more modernized and offer more to their citizen and those who wish to visit. In terms of vehicle noise, more has been done to reduce this in cities than other forms of noise pollution. Since most cities have to have roads and highways to be accessible, this is the number one concern to most people. Cities have begun to plan strategies to reduce noise pollution in all its form.
This is called noise mitigation. Most cities have been helped in reducing noise pollution thanks to the introduction and growing popularity of the hybrid car. Though a big help, the hybrid car is still not even close to being used by most commuters. To help reduce noise on the road, places have made changes to their speed restrictions, road materials, and even technology in barriers that reduce sound. The city of Melbourne, Australia has had a very unique approach to reducing their noise pollution from highways that are close to communities near the Flemington area.
The highway passing through this area is covered by a barrier made of bars. The design, while looking stylish, is made to reduce the sound made from vehicles passing through the road. The sound tube has successfully made noise from the road less heard by the people living near it. Melbourne has plans to add more noise reducing structures to their highways soon. It is plans like this that help the people living in areas around Melbourne to not worry about the effects of sound pollution. While commuter vehicles are a cause of noise pollution, so is city maintained public transportation.
Many cities have made sure that routes for their bus or rail systems are following sound levels set by their governments and other programs. Dating as far back to the 1970s, computer models have allowed city public transportation authorities to plan out their routes and lines to make sure that they keep sound to lower levels (Kutz 1). The Boston Metropolitan Transportation Authority, San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit, Houston Light Rail system, and Portland’s Beaverton light rail line have used this technology to have their buses and light rails reduce their noise levels and avoid areas where it can affect people the most.
Road noise is the most common of the noise most cities face. As mentioned before, there is also the problem of airlines and airports. This however is more difficult to maintain as trying to reduce noise from an aircraft requires the companies that make the jets and airplanes to drastically change the way they build their machines. It has come to a point that no company would seek to drastically renew their engines for the sake of sound. The only way that airplane noise can be reduced is by city planning, flight time regulations or residential sound proofing (Suter 22).
In terms of city planning, the idea is to have the developments of your city a good distance from airports. While a central business district may not be affected as much, it should still be a good distance from areas of that sort. The main concern is residential areas as they have the more population that are permanent and therefore can be affected by the problems associated with noise pollution. If neighborhoods were able to be a good distance from airports, the effects of their sound pollution would decrease or even be nonexistent.
Unfortunately as cities expand, they go into whatever area was trying to be maintained to be a cushion from airport sounds. As cities expand or are near airports, regulations to come into place to soundproof the homes in the area. Here in the United States, the government took measures into seeing that the cities and towns surrounding airports would soundproof homes and businesses. The Federal Aviation Administration began projects in 1979 to insulate buildings so that they would be able to reduce noise from nearby airports.
Over many years, the program created many soundproof residential areas that made homes and buildings with things like window glazing, fireplace baffling, and caulking construction seams (ASNAA 1). Canada has also made neighboring city developments to soundproof the area if it is in certain proximity to an airport using Noise Exposure Forecast (NEF). As mentioned with the London Heathrow Airport, the problem persist as homes are too close to airport landing sites that it is almost nearly impossible for the cities to greatly decrease the noise pollution problems.
What some cities don’t realize that while the noise mitigation is useful for their citizens, it is also helpful to the environment that may surround them. The term “going green” is popular now as fears of global warming and dwindling resources are a reality. What most people don’t realize is that noise pollution is also something that needs to be taken care of when “going green. ” Many cities across the world have made efforts to help the environment, and what they don’t realize is that though noise pollution seems like a problem just for humans that it is also an nvironmental issue. Many groups around the world have fought for cities and even countries as a whole to maintain themselves when it comes to noise issues. Most major cities in the U. S. and other countries have groups that are dedicated to reducing the noise pollution in their area or areas close to nature. The reason why they fight for noise mitigation near nature is that just as humans are affected by noise pollution, so are animal wildlife. Studies have shown strange activity from many species of animal when presented to areas that have issues with noise pollution.
The Los Angeles area has a group named Citizens Against Noise whose motto, according to their website, is “To fight all kinds of noise pollution. To educate the public about the connection between noise and stress, and how it lower the quality of life and damages both your physical and mental health. To lobby lawmakers and pressure the authorities to solve the problem of excessive noise. ” The group is also dedicated to helping areas around nature to reduce their noise pollution even more.
There are many more groups that have the same goal, such as Alaska’s “Quiet Rights Coalition,” British Colombia’s “Ban the Canon Initiative” and Hong Kong’s “Hush the Bus Movement. ” All these groups are helping cities find the balance to make sure noise pollution doesn’t affect their lives and nature anymore. This is how everything eventually fits into how planning and sustaining a city. All types of pollution are tied into each other. Most air pollution is contributed from traffic congestion and emissions from factories and plants.
These emissions from factories and plants can also cause water and soil pollution if it is close to the source. These things can also have an effect on light pollution as traffic and a building’s lights are ongoing. The one thing that these things will always seem to have in common is the characteristic of noise. When it comes to making a city run well, you have to try and keep these things nonexistent or to the lowest possible point of affecting anyone. It would seem that the dream of developers is to try to make themselves a city that can be sustainable and profitable. Cities seem to be made to centralize business, pleasure, and home.
The problem with cities though is that sometimes they are planned to be something and then eventually over time becomes something else. Cities begin to grow into different areas; they can sometimes see an increase in population that may not be able to handle it and even can unforeseen events that cause distress. With noise pollution, it seems that it is something that can’t be avoided to make a city run with many things that create the issue. So as it becomes almost necessary to bring in different types of pollution, it leads the solution to be brought up by the cities itself.
Just like the current situation in Switzerland, regulations for noise pollution may be passed by the government but if something else is not regulated it then something should be done about it. Luckily, citizens of cities who are affected by the issue are taking a stand and demanding that something be done to reduce the noise. They are striving to make their city more sustainable. By attempting to create some sort of noise mitigation, they help the citizens of the area and also to whatever else it could possibly be affecting, i. e. nature.
That is why so many groups are active in trying to bring forth the subject of noise pollution. It is unwanted and unhealthy for many. A city that reduces this problem will be more desirable to live in or work in. With more people doing that, it creates an effective chain of work that could eventually lead to other parts of the city such as other forms of pollution and sustaining things like transportation, business, and human activity. Noise mitigation is an essential part to making a city sustainable. Cities that have been planned poorly or are crumbling to the effects of it show a lack of sustainability.
Many examples have shown that some minor and major changes to structure or regulation are all that it takes to make a difference in reducing noise issues. Most people should be concerned about this issue as health and mental states are at risk. We also have to think about how it is affecting nature. Some cities have taken the initiative to try and mitigate the problem, but some who have serious issues with it have not done a thing or failed at their attempts. Though the issue may be lack of resources or funds to create projects for noise mitigation, it should still be seen as a concern as cities continue to expand and populations grow.
With no sustainability with noise, the growing population and nature will be dealing with more issues than those of greenhouse gasses and violence. Works Cited: “Aviation Safety and Noise Abatement Act of 1979. ” 1979. Web. 24 Apr. 2011. . “CITIZENS AGAINST NOISE (C. A. N. ) – Los Angeles, California. ” Free HOA Websites, Neighborhood Websites, Homeowners Association Websites, Condo Websites, and Community Websites – Neighborhood Link. Web. 21 Apr. 2011. . Kutz, Myer. Handbook of Transportation Engineering. New York, NY [u. a. : McGraw-Hill, 2004. Print. Mayntz, Melissa. "Types of Pollution. Major Environmental Issues | Going Green. Web. 24 Apr. 2011. . "Melbourne Planning & Proposals. ” Melbourne: VicRoads. Web. 22 Apr. 2011. . "Noise Pollution | Air and Radiation | US EPA. ” US Environmental Protection Agency. Web. 25 Apr. 2011. . "Open Directory – Society: Issues: Environment: Noise Pollution. ” ODP – Open Directory Project. Web. 21 Apr. 2011. . Suter, Alice H. Noise and It’s Effects. Rep. Administrative Conference of the United States. Web. 25 Apr. 2011. . "WRS | Noise Pollution Persists despite Federal Rules. ” World Radio Switzerland. 27 Apr. 2011. Web. 28 Apr. 2011. .