Noise pollution refers to undesirable sounds that cause annoyance and discomfort. Besides being annoying, being in an noise polluted environment for long periods of time has a detrimental effects on health. Some include an increase in asthma symptoms and heart attacks due to an obvious increase in stress levels. Noise pollution is common in areas near main roads, large urban centers, airports, train stations and construction sites.
There are many ways to reduce noise pollution. First involve using on-ear protection devices (ear muffs, ear plugs, noise-cancelling headphones), second soundproofing the walls, doors and windows while the third option is encouraging quieter behavior from the people responsible for noise pollution.
Lastly, we can also mention white nose machines which produce soothing noise that can drown out the annoying noises coming from elsewhere. Having said that, these are the best noise pollution reducing methods that you can start using immediately:
1. On-ear devices
As mentioned previously, noise cancelling headphones (the most popular ones on Amazon), ear muffs and ear plugs are the best choices in this regard. Headphones work really well if you’re listening to music, watching a show or doing work on the computer. Ear muffs are the preferred choice during sleep because they are very light and can be used regardless of your sleeping position.
The same is true for ear plugs, but many people find them uncomfortable if worn for longer periods of time because the plug fills up the ear. However, if the noise is excessively loud, ear plugs will work better than ear muffs, which reduce the noise. Plugs can actually block the noise completely.
2. Soundproofing methods
If the noise pollution bothers you at home, office or some other place that you’re able to improve, soundproofing is a great choice. The most common soundproofing areas include: doors, windows, walls, ceiling, floor
Some easy and affordable DIY projects include hanging noise-blocking curtains on the windows and sealing the gaps between the door and the door frame with foam tape, as well as the gap under the door with a door sweep.
The walls (including the ceiling) can be covered with noise-blocking materials such as soundproofing panels, mass loaded vinyl and mineral wool batts. The latter two are often placed inside the wall rather than directly on the surface.
The floor can be covered with thick rugs or a carpet. For blocking more excessive noise, installing floor underlay is the best option.
Before you decide to soundproof anything, first identify where the noise pollution is coming from. Perhaps it’s just one side of your home. Maybe your light wooden front door is leaking through most of the noise. Or maybe the window, or both? Perhaps the walls are too thin or they have poor sound insulation. Also consider raising a fence and/or planting trees and large shrubbery to act as sound barriers.
Once you’ve pinpointed the main weaknesses, focus on strengthening them first. I wrote articles explaining how to soundproof each of these areas, so be sure to check them out for more advice on methods and best products:
- How to soundproof a door
- How to stop noise coming through windows
- How to soundproof a wall
- How to reduce road noise in the backyard
- How to stop wind noise coming through a chimney
3. Encourage quiet behavior
If your neighbors or roommates are the ones causing the noise, you’re in a bit of luck. This is a problem that can often be solved with a little encouragement (or threats). Communicating your distress with the noise in a smart way is crucial here. You need to be precise about the sounds that annoy you and make it clear that you won’t tolerate it. I highly recommend checking out these two articles that I wrote recently for the best tips on doing so:
If the noise is coming from an external venue, put pressure on the relevant city or governing authorities to introduce noise regulation policies. The laws should limit the amount of noise in public and private spaces so if the noise is excessive you might have a valid complaint that will be taken seriously.
4. White noise machine
White noise machines are used in nurseries, bedrooms, offices and many other places where relaxation is needed. This noise is actually a very soothing constant sound that can even be used for meditation. It definitely improves sleep because it drowns out the irregular, noise pollution coming from the environment.
You can find white noise videos on Youtube. But instead of having to wear headphones when it’s not convenient or keeping your computer or phone on for too long, a white noise machine (link to Amazon) is more convenient. Furthermore, there are usually dozens of variations available depending on the user’s preference.
5. Reduce noise with simple actions
If you’re keeping the doors or windows open, this can leave you exposed to more noise than necessary. Also consider rearranging the furniture so that it covers the walls through which most of the sound passes. For example, a large closet covering the exterior wall near the road will reduce some of that traffic noise.