Noise pollution is the consequence of our technological advancement and of our lifestyles. In urban areas, noise is created by highly concentrated masses of people, equipment, vehicles and devices. Then the noise is focused and concentrated in the urban canyons as it reflects off of buildings or as it passes through walls and windows of structures. Noise is a constant stressor and irritant, as humans enjoy an environment where they can be in charge of the sounds that they choose to hear.
The decibel levels of many of our most beloved technological marvels, such as leaf blowers, jackhammers, airplanes, sound amplifiers, emergency vehicle sirens, and anything that is heard through earphones or headphones can be alarmingly high. As a result, there have been measures taken and there have been advancements made in reducing the intrusion of environmental noise into homes, businesses and communities.
The first battle in the noise pollution war is fought by the local governments and the population, which agree on certain restrictions in the the time of use, or the decibel levels that are allowed in a municipality or a residential community. Many communities prohibit construction work and loud activities after working hours. Most have noise ordinances that set a certain decibel level that will be tolerated, no matter if the source is a bad muffler or abnormally loud snoring in an apartment complex.. Landlord/tenant relations are rife with measures that must be taken in order to quell the noise of tenants, based on the complaints of other tenants. In summary, regulation, contractual agreement and other social agreements are a major regulator of noise pollution.
The technological battle is fought on many fronts, from advanced devices that are far less noisy than their predecessors, to architectural design, materials and procedures that muffle environmental noise. After developing more smooth running machines and vehicles, servicing the machines and vehicles to keep their parts in smooth running order, repairing and maintaining required muffling apparatus, and conducting the proper lubrication of parts is a major factor in noise reduction
Soundproofing of homes is more available through improved glass windows and doors which present the greatest opportunity for sound intrusion. Wall and attic insulation can muffle the sound from airports. In Tucson, AZ, the municipal airport sprung for a massive and costly soundproofing project to modify many homes in the neighborhoods around the airport.
The biological and natural battle is fought by planting soundproofing or baffling trees and shrubs, and by developing better sound deadening safety gear, such as the headphones and earplugs which are worn in high noise environments. Even snoring is getting more attention from the medical community, as snoring can be loud enough to bother people in neighboring apartments and even houses.
When any industrial, transportation or other likely noise polluting operation is planned, and when the vehicular traffic that such enterprises generate is considered, urban planners and engineers to to work in evaluating the impact of the increased noise on the surrounding communities and in developing requirements that must be met to offset the expected increase in noise.
Finally, white noise machines are devices which convert or replace the unpleasant noise with a sound that is perceived as universally pleasant, such as a fan, waterfall or light music.