VISUAL CAMPAIGN


85 decibels is a project that uses design to explore noise pollution and its effects on human health. Extensive research and my own experiences living in a city have served as basis for my visual exploration. My objective was to create an awareness about the problematic issues with noise pollution through an eye-catching visual campaign.



ABSTRACT

The research began with the burning question of ‘When does the noise become too much?’ Likewise, the desire to investigate noise pollution originated from my own experience of being a victim to unwanted sound. Essentially, noise is a sound that is usually considered loud, unpleasant, and disturbing and it is highly associated with annoyance. A sound is a form of energy that is transmitted in various waves which are imperceivable to the eyes yet detectable by the human ear. Among the many environmental issues that pollute the earth, noise pollution is one of the many and its risk is often overlooked because it is usually not deemed as a major threat to the environment compared to air and soil pollution. However, the conception that noise is not as harmful as other pollutants is horribly mistaken.









WHAT IS NOISE?


Noise is a sound that is especially unwanted or unpleasant, or something that causes disturbance. The loudness of a sound is measured in decibels (dB). Formally, the loudness of individual source of noise is measured in decibels (dB) and the specific level of noise help narrow down the effects.











WHAT IS SOUND?


NA sound is a form of energy that travels in waves and vibrations. Sound is measured in frequency and amplitude. Humans and animals can detect the vibrations through the ears and each individual experiences sound differently.


WHAT IS DECIBEL?


The term is usually used in electronics and communications. A decibel (dB) is a unit used to to measure the magitude of a sound. The intensity of loudness becomes more dependable and manageable when it is measured in numbers. On the decibel scale, the lowest audible sound is 0 dB. Also, intensity of sound is affected distance in which greater distance means lower intensity and less harm.






DETRIMENTAL EFFECT OF
HIGHER DECIBELS


“As loudness increases, the amount of time you can hear the sound before damage occurs decreases. Hearing protectors reduce the loudness of sound reaching the ears, making it possible to listen to louder sounds for a longer time.” 1 In other words, the brain learns to adapt to the emitted waves of sound as it gets louder, thus, the human body would not be able to register the harmful effects at the moment which is why a lot of people do not consider noise pollution as much of big deal as air pollution. In fact, the ear registers pain at about 120 dB while hearing damage begins at a much lower level at about 85 dB. As has been said, noise is an invisible force that disrupts human health physically and mentally.

















HUMAN HEALTH AFFECTED BY NOISE


Generally, noise can have a negative impact on human health. The unwanted sound could cause lack of sleep, irritability, heartburn, indigestion, high blood pressure, and possibly cardiovascular diseases. People should not underestimate the effect of sound on humans. Noise acts as a strong agent in creating severe tension and stress in the human body, thus, inducing a change in physical and mental health. “Noise produces a stimulus to the central nervous system and this stimulus releases some hormones.” 2 Thus, this certain chemical produced in a human body is known to increase the risk of hypertension which is associated with a lot of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases like heart attacks and strokes. Although noise is not considered a direct causation for diseases like coronary artery disease, hypertension, and heart failure, it could be a potential risk factor for many heart-related problems. 3










 












NOISE IS AN ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUE


The desire to investigate noise pollution originated from my curiosity about the existing noise in Baltimore, Maryland. The research began with the burning question of When does the noise become too much?’ Essentially, a noise is a sound that is considered unpleasant, and disturbing. A sound is a form of energy that is transmitted in various waves which are imperceivable to the eyes yet detectable by the human ear. Among the many environmental issues that 




pollute the earth, noise pollution is one of the many and its risk is often overlooked because it is usually not deemed as a major threat to the environment compared to air and soil pollution. However, the conception that noise is not as harmful as other pollutants is horribly mistaken. In 1972, the World Health Organization (who) declared noise as a pollutant and they considered urban noise as one of the main sources of pollution. 4 In addition, the organization states that 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.” 5  Through the case study of considering noise as one of the largest pollutants, I intend to create an awareness of how little noise could impact our surroundings and human health over a long duration of time.












WHO IS WHO?


The World Health Organization (who), is a specialized agency of the United Nations and one of the most prominent organizations concerned with international public health. The headquarters is located in Geneva, Switzerland, and the organization has been active ever since April 7, 1948. Again, the who declared noise as a pollutant in 1972. After a while, they officially released a new Environmental Noise Guideline for the European Region on October 10, 2018, revealing a piece of “strong evidence that noise is one of the top environmental hazards to both physical and mental health and well-being in the European Region...The new who guidelines define exposure levels to noise that should not be exceeded to minimize adverse health effects and we urge European policy-makers to make good use of this guidance for the benefit of all Europeans.” 6 The document provides strong evidence of the significant health impacts of environmental noise, recommended procedures to assess the evidence and the noise, “defining the relationship between noise exposure and the risk of adverse health outcomes,” and developments in the “use of long-term average noise exposure indicators to better predict adverse health outcomes.” 7











 









TYPES OF NOISE


The source of noise is categorized into two types: industrial and non-industrial noise.8 Industrial noise consists of sound from factories and construction such as the operation of a machine, motors, cranes, welding, etc; However, the level of noise also varies depending on the type of industry and capacity of machines. On the other hand, non-industrial noise originates from transportation, residential areas, and community. For example, planes generate a significant amount of sound during take-off. Next, many household equipments such as the air conditioning and heating system produce noise. Then, there are places in the community that are notably loud such as concerts, festivals, and clubs.

THREE MAIN FACTORS FOR ASSESSING HEALTH DAMAGES


There are three main factors that should be considered when evaluating damages in health caused by noise pollution: loudness (measured in decibels), proximity to source (the distance between the source of noise and the receiver), and duration of exposure. 9 Likewise, the impact of noise on human health varies depending on “frequency, intensity, exposure time, and individual susceptibility. Then, the level annoyance differs among individuals since everyone experiences sound dissimilarly.



























PROLONGED EXPOSURE TO NOISE CAUSES HEARING LOSS

Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is a condition that occurs when the human ear is exposed to sound at a harmful level over an extended period of time. Excessive sound can disrupt the sensitive structures within the ear and cause NIHL. Normally, sounds at safer levels such as the sound from televisions, radio, and household do not cause loss of hearing. “Sounds of less than 75 decibels, even after long exposure, are unlikely to cause hearing loss. However, long or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss. The louder the sound,




the shorter the amount of time it takes for NIHL to happen.”  10  People of all ages are exposed to variety of noise everyday. “Based on a 2011-2012 CDC study involving hearing tests and interviews with participants, at least 10 million adults (6 percent) in the U.S. udner age 70 — and perhaps as many as 40 million adults (24 percent) — have features of their hearing test that suggest hearing loss in one or both ears from exposure to loud noise.” 11 Furthermore, researchers state that at least 17 percent of teens, age from 12 to 19, have noticeable 

signs of NIHL in one or both ears (Pediatrics





signs of NIHL in one or both ears (Pediatrics 2011), based on data from 2005–2006. The problematic issue with hearing loss is that it is difficult to notice and takes a long time for the symptoms to emerge. Likewise, "the damage from noise exposure is usually gradual, you might not notice it, or you might ignore the signs of hearing loss until they become more pronounced." Researchers have stated that people who have been exposured to noise for a long period of time could suffer from residual long-term damage to your hearing.

WAYS TO PREVENT HEARING LOSS 12

1. Know which kind of noises can cause damage.
2. Wear earplugs or other protective devices that help reduce the leve lof noise in a loud environment.
3. Create distance between  you and the source of noise when it is difficult to reduce the noise.
4. Be cautious of hazardous noises in an environment.
5. Young children should be extra careful of being exposed to noise, thus, protection is advised.











LANDSCAPE THAT REDUCES NOISE

Then, there is an individual who discovered a new solution to reducing the capacity of noise in a neighborhood where the airport nearby produces a significant amount of unwanted sound. A land artist, Paul de Kort, built a park with architectural constructs that disrupt sound waves and reduce the level of noise nearby the Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. Essentially, the land is a “sprawling field filled with a patter of ridges [sitting] next to the largest runway.” 13













Kort worked with H.N.S. Landscape Architects to build “150 ridges, each about 10 feet high and 36 ft wide, surrounded by small furrows.” 14 The architectural forms of the objects were inspired by nature in which the “noise levels decreased in the fall, when nearby fields were plowed into ridges and furrows.” 15 In addition, the whole experimentation was inspired by a scientist in the 18th century who made it possible to visualize sound by “experiment[ing]  










with soundwaves by placing sand or salt on a metal tray, running a violin bow across to make it vibrate, and then looking at the patterns resulted.” 16 The constructs are also interactive where people could walk through the maze-like patterns inside the ridgesUltimately, this new experimentation in efforts to reduce the amount of noise has inspired other airports such as the Melbourne Airport and London Gatwick Airport to build similar sound barriers.

















WE SHOULD CARE

Most people are unaware of the gravity of noise pollution in regards to its effect on human health. The idea that noise pollution is not as harmful as other major pollutions is horribly misunderstood. As who states, noise pollution is an underestimated threat that can disrupt human health physically and mentally. Most people in the world are indifferent and irresponsible about the effort of creating a healthier environment. People refuse to believe that we are the cause for the destruction of the earth.The earth desperately needs protection because if the earth is no longer habitable for humans, then humans will no longer have a place to live. Through the case study of expressing noise as one of the major pollutants, I intended to create an awareness of how little noise could significantly become a larger threat if people remain indifferent to environmental problems.














EDITORIAL











SOURCES


1. Healthwise Staff. “Harmful Noise Levels.” HealthLink BC. May 4, 2017. Accessed February 22, 2019. https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-topics/tf4173.

2. Roberts, Joanna. “Noise Pollution Is One of the Biggest Health Risks in City Life.” Horizon: The EU Research & Innovation Magazine. May 24, 2018. Accessed February 26, 2019. https://horizon-magazine.eu/article/noise-pollution-one-biggest-health-risks-city-life.html.

3. Gray, Sarah. “Noise Pollution May Impact Heart Health, According to New Research.” Fortune. February 6, 2018. Accessed February 23, 2019. http://fortune.com/2018/02/06/noise-pollution-may-impact-heart-health-according-to-new-research/.

4. de Paiva Vianna, K. M., Alves Cardoso, M. R., & Rodrigues, R. M. (2015). Noise pollution and annoyance: an urban soundscapes study. Noise & health, 17(76), 125-33.
5. Gray, Sarah. “Noise Pollution May Impact Heart Health, According to New Research.” Fortune. February 6, 2018. Accessed February 23, 2019. http://fortune.com/2018/02/06/noise-pollution-may-impact-heart-health-according-to-new-research/.

6 — 7.
“New WHO Noise Guidelines for Europe Released.” World Health Organization. October 10, 2018. Accessed February 26, 2019. http://www.euro.who.int/en/media-centre/sections/press-releases/2018/press-information-note-on-the-launch-of-the-who-environmental-noise-guidelines-for-the-european-region.

8. Siriwatwimol, Natchamol. “Where Does The Noise Pollution Come From?” Powered by Blog.nus. August 26, 2016. Accessed February 24, 2019. https://blog.nus.edu.sg/natchamol/2016/08/26/where-does-noise-pollution-come-from/.



9. Siriwatwimol, Natchamol. “How Loud Is Too Loud?” Powered by Blog.nus. August 31, 2016. Accessed February 24, 2019. https://blog.nus.edu.sg/a/2016/08/31/how-loud-is-too-loud/.

10 — 12. “Noise-Induced Hearing Loss.” National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. February 7, 2017. Accessed February 24, 2019. https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/noise-induced-hearing-loss.

13 — 16. Peters, Adele. “This Clever Park Is A Piece Of Art That Also Cuts Airport Noise Pollution In Half.” Fast Company. June 17, 2015. Accessed February 26, 2019. https://www.fastcompany.com/3047412/this-clever-park-is-a-piece-of-art-that-also-cuts-airport-noise-pollution-in-half.






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