Updated 04 July 2013

Noise is a pollutant too

We underestimate how it can wear away our quality of life: noise pollution is a serious enviro-health issue.

Noise pollution is one of the top complaints city dwellers have about the urban lifestyle, but it's also greatly underrated as a health and environmental issue.

It is a very real contributor to several health problems, including stress, anxiety, sleep disorders and hypertension.

Noise also interferes with wild animals’ sound communication, making it harder for some species to find mates, navigate, avoid prey or perceive predators. And, as with humans, noise adds to animals' stress levels, which are already high in urban and peri-urban areas because of a host of other human-induced stressors.

The following are some simple measures you can try to help reduce both your neighbours' and your own noise levels: 

  • Grow trees, shrubs or hedges (foliage generally) round your property to act as a sound barrier.
  • Make more use of carpets, heavy curtains, wall hangings and soft furnishings to help absorb noise.
  • Install double-glazed windows. Make sure that window frames are properly sealed too.
  • Install ceiling, floor or wall insulation - which will also improve your home's temperature regulation.
  • Seal cracks and weatherproof your home generally.
  • Install dry wall - the extra layer plus the air space between the dry wall and structural wall will help mute sound. Even more effective is if the space is filled with insulating material. The thicker and denser the wall and insulating materials, the better they will block sound.
  • If the sound is coming from above, a dropped ceiling may be an option.
  • Put felt coasters under furniture legs and bases. Not only does this help prevent screeching and scraping when items are shifted, it saves your floors.
  • Get into the habit of removing your shoes when you come home, and wearing socks or slippers around the house. This is especially helpful when it comes to heavy boots and high heels, bare hard-wood or tiled floors, and if you have neighbours downstairs.
  • Position audio equipment away from walls that are shared with neighbours.

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