Lifestyle Changes 5 MIN READ 50 VIEWS January 11, 2022

National Road Safety Week (January 11 – 17): How Noise Pollution and Air Pollution Affect Your Health

Medically Reviewed By Dr. Aarti Nehra

National Road Safety Week

According to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, among 199 countries, India has the highest number of road fatalities. The findings clearly show that road safety is a huge public health issue. To recognise the gravity of the situation and educate people on improving their road safety, the Government of India observes National Road Safety Week from January 11 to January 17.

2022 National Road Safety Week Theme

‘Sadak Suraksha – Jeevan Raksha’ is the theme for this year’s National Road Safety Week. This campaign aims to highlight numerous steps people may take to comply with government safety laws and as a result, keep themselves and their loved ones safe.

This National Road Safety Week, we are bringing to your notice how transportation causes noise pollution and air pollution and in turn how the two affect your health.

Effects of Noise Pollution on Health

A huge number of automobiles on the road, aeroplanes flying over houses, and subway trains make a lot of noise, which many find difficult to adjust to. As a result, a normal person’s hearing capacity is impaired. Some of the  effects of noise pollution are:

1. Hearing Issues

Unwanted sounds that our ears cannot filter can create health issues. Our ears can only take in a particular range of sounds. Man-made noises like airplanes, vehicles, and horns are too loud for human ears.

Constant exposure to loud noise can damage our eardrums, cells and membranes in the inner ear  which may cause hearing loss, tinnitus, or deafness. As a result of this long term exposure to noise, we lose our sensitivity to sounds that our bodies pick up automatically.

2. Cognitive & Behavioural Issues

Noise affects brain reactions and concentration, resulting in poor performance over time. Too much noise in the brain slows response times and dulls the mind. It also leads to memory loss, making studying difficult. 

Studies reveal that youngsters who live near train stations or airports struggle to learn. People who live near airports or busy roadways tend to have more headaches, take more sleeping medicines and sedatives, are more prone to have minor accidents, and seek psychiatric care.

3. Mood Disorders

Noise pollution in offices, construction sites, pubs, and even our homes can affect our mental health. Anxiety, despair, hysteria, and hypertension have all been related to excessive noise in both people and animals. 

With more noise, people become more irritated and less patient. These can lead to chronic health difficulties later in life.

4. Sleeping Disorders

While it may not seem like much, excessive noise can disrupt your sleep, causing irritation and discomfort. You may suffer from weariness if you don’t get enough sleep. This will impact your performance at work and make you unable to carry out chores at home. It is consequently advised to get a good night’s sleep. 

If a noise is disrupting your sleep, take action to reduce it. While it is unavoidable in some cases (like TV or electronics), it can be easily prevented by changing one’s lifestyle. Surprisingly, our ears require 16 hours of rest to recover from two hours of 100 dB exposure.

5. Heart Problems

High blood pressure, heart disease, and stress-related cardiac issues are on the rise. Elevated intensity noise interrupts normal blood flow, increasing blood pressure and heart rate. Because lowering these rates depends on our understanding of noise or sound pollution, we must be conscious of the consequences.

6. Trouble Communicating

High decibel noise might disrupt free communication. This may cause misunderstandings and difficulty understanding others. In addition, constant loud noise can cause severe headaches and emotional instability.

7. Impact On Wildlife 

Wildlife is more susceptible to noise pollution than people due to their reliance on sound. Animals develop superior hearing than humans to ensure their survival. The recently published Biology Letters study shows that human-made noise impacts many animals. 

For example, pets are more aggressive in homes with persistent noise. They get easily disoriented and have various behavioural issues. Hearing loss in animals makes them easy prey and leads to population decline. Others lose their hunting skills, disrupting the ecosystem.

Effects of Air Pollution on Health

The process of burning gas to power cars and trucks emits a variety of pollutants into the atmosphere, which is the primary source of air pollution. Secondary pollution is caused by chemical reactions that occur between pollutants after they are released into the atmosphere. Some of the effects of air pollution are:

1. Respiratory and Cardiovascular Disorders

The consequences of air pollution are dire. They are known to cause a variety of respiratory and cardiovascular problems, including asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, heart attacks, and strokes as well as cancer. Several million people are reported to have died directly or indirectly as a result of air pollution.

2. Children’s Health Issues

Even before you take your first breath, air pollution is harmful to your health. Pregnancy exposure to high levels of air pollution results in miscarriages, premature delivery, asthma, autism, and spectrum disorders in young children. Additionally, it has the potential to impair a child’s early brain development and induce pneumonia, which kills almost a million children under the age of five. 

Children living in locations exposed to air pollutants are at an increased risk of developing short-term respiratory infections and pulmonary illnesses.

3. Wildlife Impact

Like people, animals are subjected to some of the same debilitating impacts of air pollution. Toxic substances in the air can drive wildlife species to seek new habitats. Toxic pollutants settle on the water’s surface and can potentially harm sea life.

4. UV Rays Affect 

Ozone is a gas found in the earth’s stratosphere that protects humans from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. The ozone layer on Earth is decreasing as a result of chlorofluorocarbons and hydrochlorofluorocarbons in the atmosphere. As the ozone layer depletes, it emits harmful rays back onto the planet, causing skin and eye ailments. UV radiation can also affect crops.

Conclusion

Noise and air pollution from vehicles is a major contributor to health issues. Clean air and a peaceful environment benefit everyone. By knowing the causes of noise pollution and air pollution, there are actions you can take to help reduce the amount of pollution caused due to vehicles. 

During this National Road Safety Week, we urge everyone to take certain necessary measures. You can walk or ride a bike for a short distance, take public transportation, share cabs, avoid idling, and invest in fuel-efficient vehicles. For the reduction of noise pollution, you can fit low noise tires to vehicles, walk or cycle, buy a quieter car, and drive slowly.

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