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In our world today we are surrounded by noise everywhere we go. Much of our urban areas are packed with the sounds of automobile horns blaring, airplanes flying above, construction, and more. This all is considered noise pollution, or the constant exposure to high level sound that can lead to substantial negative effects in living organisms. To top it off, much of the natural world is affected by the noise we as humans cause every day. 

Impact of Noise Pollution on Marine Life

The oceans, although inhabitable by humans, have become one of the major spaces of noise pollution affecting marine life. Air guns, drilling for oil and gas, offshore wind farms, and even shipping often cause daily disturbances among oceanic organisms. Nicola Jones speaks of this in her 2019 TED talk piece stating, “it’s estimated that shipping has added three decibels of noise to the ocean every 10 years in recent decades.”

Three decibels may not seem like a large number, but the decibel scale is similar to the Richter scale in terms of earthquakes. This means that a three-decibel increase represents a large change of noise intensity in the ocean. These disturbances can cause a bevy of consequences for oceanic life, especially in whales and dolphins. Marine animals have been found to experience both physical and mental damage from extreme sound events such as vascular damage and nitrogen bubbles forming within the blood. Noise pollution also makes communication harder among whales and dolphins. As a result, the higher intensity of noise can cause hearing damage.

Impact of Noise Pollution on Humans

Noise pollution doesn’t only affect marine life however, as humans are also severely affected. National Geographic in 2019 published an article about the relationship between human health and noise pollution with one piece of the article stating that, “exposure to loud noise can also cause high blood pressure, heart disease, sleep disturbances, and stress.” Therefore, these health problems can affect all age groups, especially children. Many children who live near noisy airports or streets have been found to suffer from stress and other problems, such as impairments in memory, attention level, and reading skill.” With the number and severity of consequences that noise pollution has on both public and environmental health, one should ask, why is this issue not being heard? 


Noise pollution, like any other form of pollution, is an environmental health issue as well as a public health issue that is dangerous to ignore. The good news is that noise pollution can be addressed easily through technology adoption. It may come with no small amount of effort. One possibility is to transition to electric automobiles, rather than the gas-powered ones commonly  used today. A low tech option is to use a bicycle or other simpler forms of transportation. Traffic noise can account for hundreds of noise decibels each day. By using other forms of transportation designed for a quieter experience, improved health and life should follow. 

Another opportunity for noise pollution reduction is to transition away from fossil fuels in favor of renewables. The cost of renewable energy, specifically solar, has dwindled down to the price of what fossil fuels cost us to live. Furthermore, implementing solar energy has the ability to reduce noise levels in the oceans dramatically while also combatting the well-known issue of greenhouse gas emissions. Finally, to further reduce noise levels is through governmental action and policy. The effects of noise pollution are too detrimental for the present and the future; governmental leaders must create plans to reduce noise levels in the ocean and in metropolitan areas. The health consequences are far too severe to be overlooked and action must be taken now by those in power. 


Consequences of Underwater Noise

Noise pollution: Environmental pollution centers. 

“The Dangers of a Noisy Ocean — and How We Can Quiet it Down”.

Noise pollution 

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