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Noise Pollution & The Luxury of Quiet

Noise Pollution & The Luxury of Quiet

2 min read

These days, quiet is hard to come by. With all of the noise pollution in cities, the external world is rapidly becoming a very different environment than it once was before the advent of cars, machinery, and loud construction.

The lack of noise pollution is becoming a sought after experience. Suburban environments were often originally employed as an escape for those with means to escape the irritating noise and bustle of city life, after they return home from work downtown. This still has truth to it, although more people are living in cities, even if they had the option for suburban housing. One aspect that could influence this is the fact that houses are more insulated and are better able to be more effectively soundproofed. Soundproofing today has advanced.

What counts as too much noise is, to some degree, subjective. Different personalties (for example, introverts and extraverts) may feel differently about what degree of noise constitutes pollution. Though, even across all types of people, there are some commonalities which go beyond mere subjective preference. One of these is hearing loss. Some areas in cities are so loud that, for all people, hearing issues can develop from continued exposure. It's wild to think that a place in which many, many people live and work could be itself a serious danger to their auditory health.

An article entitled City Noise Might Be Making You Sick helps describe this phenomenon, referencing a study from Lancet:

People living in cities are regularly exposed (against their will) to noise above 85 decibels from sources like traffic, subways, industrial activity, and airports. That’s enough to cause significant hearing loss over time.
Industrial operations churn at 80 to 89 decibels, loud enough to do severe damage to hearing over time.

Improved planning of everything from cities to neighborhoods could help curb this issue. Doing so would require a shift in focus, as noise reduction is often not accounted for, and not taken seriously. If it were, I don't imagine we would have sound levels which damage hearing.

Quiet, with the rising ruckus of our modern world, has become something closer to a luxury, for many people. This is especially true of people living near, working in, or being exposed to, cities. Unusual though it is, this has become a new reality.