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  • Have you ever stopped and realized just how noisy the world is?

  • You're probably used to all the sounds but when you stop for a moment and just take it in

  • It's pretty noisy, isn't it?

  • What is all that noise doing to us? And could it be impacting our health in some negative way?

  • The most obvious way that noise can be harmful is when it causes damage to our hearing.

  • Experts generally agree that humans can be exposed to noise levels at or below 70 decibels for any duration of time

  • without risk of hearing damage, which is around the higher end of normal conversation volumes.

  • However, when we're exposed to 85 decibels or more for over 8 hours,

  • that's when we start risking hearing damage.

  • 85 decibels is about the noise level of a busy road with lots of trucks going by.

  • At 150 decibels, or about the volume of a jet on takeoff from 25 meters away,

  • your eardrums can rupture.

  • But can noisy environments harm more than just your ears?

  • As it turns out, they can.

  • For one thing, they can make it hard to get a good night's sleep.

  • Just because you're unconscious doesn't mean your ears stop working.

  • Otherwise, alarm clocks would be useless today and our predators would have a free late-night snack

  • back in the days before the door was invented.

  • Because this channel is always open, loud noises can interfere with sleep patterns

  • by decreasing the amount of time people spend in the slow-wave and REM stages

  • and increasing the amount of time people spend in stage 1 or awake.

  • Lack of sleep brings on a whole host of problems like impaired memory, creativity, and judgment.

  • Whether asleep or awake, noise can also trigger our fight-or-flight response,

  • leading to an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and levels of stress hormones like epinephrine and cortisol.

  • Even if you're used to sleeping through bumps in the night, your body can still have these responses while you're unconscious.

  • All this means noise could be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

  • Living somewhere noisy can have tangible impacts on the quality and duration of our lives.

  • In 2011 the World Health Organization released a report that concluded that every year

  • the population of Europe has a combined one million years of healthy life shaved off their lifespans just due to noise.

  • The authors ranked noise from road traffic as the second biggest threat to public health after air pollution.

  • In 2020 the European Environment Agency linked noise to 12,000 premature deaths annually.

  • Add in the fact that noise can also affect how animals hunt, navigate, and find mates,

  • and the termnoise pollutionseems pretty apt.

  • Noise is also getting harder and harder to escape.

  • One nonprofit, Noise Pollution Clearinghouse, created a map of places in the United States that are naturally quiet

  • based on their distance from road, rail, and flyover traffic.

  • Only tiny pockets of the country meet their standard.

  • Recently, some local and national governments have taken the initiative of creating quiet places

  • for the benefit of their residents, like Yangmingshan National Park in Taiwan,

  • which the nonprofit Quiet Parks International has certified as the world's first Urban Quiet Park.

  • Quiet Parks International is aiming to certify about 50 such parks in the near future,

  • possibly ones close to bustling cities like New York, Miami, and Stockholm.

  • Speaking of Nordic countries, if you're looking for some peace and quiet now you could head to Finland,

  • which actually ran a tourism campaign in 2011 highlighting how quiet the country is.

  • Even its residents are famously laconic.

  • But if you can't get away, can't wait for a park, and can't get a good night's sleep,

  • then earplugs are cheaper than a plane ticket and readily available.

  • If you want to splurge a bit more, you might be in the market for noise-canceling headphones.

  • Amanda explains how this incredible technology works here.

  • Are you worried about how noisy your neighborhood is or do you sleep like a baby every night?

  • Let us know in the comments, be sure to subscribe, and I'll see you next time on Seeker.

Have you ever stopped and realized just how noisy the world is?

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B1 noise noisy quiet sleep pollution nonprofit

Noise Is Slowly Killing You

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    Summer posted on 2021/10/07
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