Noise Pollution and Health

Since a month I am working at a personal research concerning noise pollution in the village I live, in Norway, and I have written already one post about it on this blog. In this new post I add info that has been written by impressive organizations, like the WHO, and the Norwegian “Miljødirektoratet”, the Norwegian Environment Agency, a department of the Norwegian government. They have added a lot of detailed rules concerning noise pollution on their website. There are already links to this Norwegian website, in the post “Noise Pollution”, but they can also be found in this post, when scrolling down to “Additional Information”. Last Friday I have sent an email to this Miljødirektoratet, with many relevant questions and remarks about the case of the noise polluter in the village where I live, E-CO, an enterprise for producing electricity via hydro power. Hydro power is the most “green” way of producing electricity. The turbines though create an unhealthy noise, with too high decibels. Read the article here. The post “Noise Pollution” and this one, will be followed up later by new information about E-CO, possible new investigations, and answers of the Miljødirektoratet on the case. It is worth it to make the effort: noise pollution has been underestimated a long time, but more and more it is clear and proved that it is as harmful as air pollution.

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What is noise, where are numbers based on?

Noise is defined as unwanted or offensive sound that unreasonably intrude into our daily life.

The World Health Organization:

Noise is an underestimated threat that can cause a number of short- and long-term health problems, such as for example sleep disturbance, cardiovascular effects, poorer work and school performance, hearing impairment, etc.

Noise has emerged as a leading environmental nuisance in the WHO European Region, and the public complains about excessive noise more and more often.

The WHO guidelines for community noise recommend less than 30 A-weighted decibels (dB(A)) in bedrooms during the night for a sleep of good quality and less than 35 dB(A) in classrooms to allow good teaching and learning conditions.

The WHO guidelines for night noise recommend less than 40 dB(A) of annual average (Lnight) outside of bedrooms to prevent adverse health effects from night noise.

All is based on “normal” ears. Children though are utterly sensitive, very vulnerable for noise pollution and the effects than adults. Also older people become more and more sensitive for noise, and experience decibels sooner as noise than younger people. In the drawing the anatomy of the ear is visible. A perfect system, very complex, ingenious. We should become more aware of this wonderful instrument, the impact of damages on its functioning, resulting often in becoming half or completely deaf, or getting a decreased sound tolerance (DST). This can include, but is not limited to individuals who suffer from hyperacusis, recruitment, hypersensitive hearing, tinnitus, misophonia, phonophobia, autism, and Meneires.

 

earanatomy

 

Some decibel frequencies 

  • An average whisper: 20 to 30 decibels
  • The humming of a refrigerator: 45 decibels
  • Normal conversation: 60 decibels
  • Noise from heavy city traffic: 85 decibels
  • Motorcycles: 95 decibels
  • An MP3 player at maximum volume: 105 decibels
  • Sirens: 120 decibels
  • Firecrackers and firearms: 150 decibels (Source.)

“Human perception of loudness also conforms to a logarithmic scale; a 10-decibel increase is perceived as roughly a doubling of loudness. Thus, 30 decibels is 10 times more intense than 20 decibels and sounds twice as loud; 40 decibels is 100 times more intense than 20 and sounds 4 times as loud; 80 decibels is 1 million times more intense than 20 and sounds 64 times as loud.”

“Distance diminishes the effective decibel level reaching the ear. Thus, moderate auto traffic at a distance of 100 ft (30 m) rates about 50 decibels. To a driver with a car window open or a pedestrian on the sidewalk, the same traffic rates about 70 decibels; that is, it sounds 4 times louder. At a distance of 2,000 ft (600 m), the noise of a jet takeoff reaches about 110 decibels—approximately the same as an automobile horn only 3 ft (1 m) away.” Source.

Further: there are other measurement tables for bedrooms, than for other indoor spaces. The noise of constant traffic is pointed as more problematic than a train that once in a while passes, with more decibels. The constant loud humming of the hydro power plant in the village where I live (situated in a mountain valley where the mountains create a kilometers long path of echoing) can be compared with a constant dripping of a water tap. It is soft, in fact not noise, but the constant repeat of the soft water drips are finally planted in the head, and work on the nerves as psychological terror. The constant humming of the hydro power plant can be categorized as psychological terror, even when the results would be that the decibels are below normal “noise pollution”.

The limits for cities differ from the limits in decibels for nature reserves and national parks, or small villages in a natural environment. What is missing in all reports, except of the miljødirektoratet, is the effect of noise on animals, and as a side effect on biodiversity in a certain region. As written: as soon I have answers from the miljødirektoratet concerning my case about noise pollution in the small mountainvillage where I live, surrounded by and part of the nature reserves, and at the border of a national park, I will post it.

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Noise pollution has disastrous effects on human health

According to research published in Environmental Health Perspectives, long-term exposure to traffic noise may account for approximately 3 percent of coronary heart disease deaths (or about 210,000 deaths) in Europe each year. But, how, exactly, does noise harm your heart?

Noise-Pollution1

Source: Central Environmental Authority, World Health Organization

 

One of the key ways is by elevating stress hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline, which, over time, can lead to high blood pressure, stroke and heart failure. One review of research showed that “arousal associated with nighttime noise exposure increased blood and saliva concentrations of these hormones even during sleep.

Among women who judge themselves to be sensitive to noise, chronic noise exposure increased the risk of cardiovascular mortality by 80 percent! Chronic noise exposure also leads to health risks beyond your heart, such as hearing loss, diminished productivity, sleep disruption, impaired learning, and more. Source.

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Supportive alternative medicine when experiencing stress during noise pollution

The best is to battle the cause, by complaining about it on the right place, as I did. Your doctor or the community where you live, or the government itself, will know more about organisations that are there to work for your benefit, to stop the noise. What I, myself, am doing not to hear the noise of E-CO (see my post Noise Pollution) in the night, is to sleep with closed windows, and opened door, to a corridor with fresh air circulation. In case the noise is too much I use earplugs. Yes. In the night. In the house. It works and helps. But it is a short term solution, not for ever. I wait for a development in the re-opened case concerning E-CO.

Because the nerves experience stress, it might be helpful to use relaxing herbs (as tinctures), like Avena Sativa (also nourishes the nerves). (Drawing on the left:)

Another herb is Crataegus Oxyacantha (drawing on the right): it strengthens the heart muscle and because of that it improves the blood circulation of the heart muscle and the coronary arteries. It is often used together with a relaxing herb, like Avena Sativa. Crataegus works positive in cases of arrhythmias, narrowed arteries, arteriosclerosis, edema, and hypertension (it lowers the high blood pressure). Warning: do not experiment with medicinal herbs, but consult a professional naturopath, or ask a professional phyto-therapist in the good health shop for advice. Since Crataegus lowers the blood pressure do not use it together with the mainstream medicine advised by your doctor.

Additional medical information about Crataegus oxiacantha, Hawthorn, from the Department of Cardiology, Guang’anmen Hospital, China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, Beijing 100053 in China: Effect of Crataegus Usage in Cardiovascular Disease Prevention: An Evidence-Based Approach

The Dr. Bach flower remedy Mimulus is helpful to be lesser (highly) sensitive. Also Crisis Remedy could help to stop the vicious circle of growing stress and creating anger, aggression. Walnut is helpful against negativity in general, to be more yourself, to strengthen you emotionally and mentally. Elm is helpful in overwhelming circumstances, when all becomes finally too much to handle. All these natural remedies are available in a good health shop.

Visit the page “Dosage Guide Flower Remedies” on this website for learning how to use the Bach flower remedies.

BachFlowers

 

 

Personal experiences and healthcare

Since I am in a crisis situation myself, and experiencing all symptoms that are mentioned, I feel change coming after starting to use the herb Avena Sativa and the three recommended Bach flower remedies: Walnut, Mimulus and Elm. It is absolutely great to feel myself back again. Today was a day of recovery, finally, but I had to sleep much, many many hours, during the day. If I would not have used the sleep as part of the recovery, not taking my body signals serious and not obeying to it, the herb and the remedies would not have been able to do their work so excellently. Sleep is another state of mind, and all works deeper when we sleep. Sleep restores the subtle bodies, all layers of our self, and because of the noise pollution my body was missing that deep careless stress-free sleep. Noise pollution goes even deep inside you while you are asleep, and the body reacts with a higher blood pressure, so it does its harm anyway, that is the danger of it. Noise pollution has to stop, and I am working at it, together with officials. I had therefore also a lack of that deep sleep, and was slowly slowly coming into a very dangerous situation.  

I have ordered also Crataegus Oxyacantha because it works excellent on the blood pressure: that was so high that it created noise in my ears, and it felt like going to explode. This is much lesser now. But the edema in my feet and ankles, all what has been mentioned, is reason enough for me to start also with Crataegus. 

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.Additional information:

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About Multerland

Multerland collects and creates educational information via blog posts, links, articles, books, films, photos, videos, and tweets about care for nature, natural health, holistic medicine, holistic therapies, deep ecology, biodynamic farming, sustainability, climate change, life processes, spirituality, awareness, mindfulness.
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