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How does noise pollution affect the health of plants?

Pollution kills many more people than covid

Ground Report | New Delhi: Noise pollution health of plants; Traffic, noisy shops and offices, industrial activity, street works, bars and nightclubs, TVs blaring… We are subjected to high levels of noise, especially in large cities, where it is practically impossible to enjoy a moment of silence. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) states that 76% of the population living in urban centers suffers a higher than recommended acoustic impact, which causes a worsening of the quality of life and risk for hearing. So much so that noise pollution has become the main cause of most hearing disorders. However, despite the fact that the vast majority of people are aware of the seriousness of this problem, most of the population does not pay due attention to high noise levels and their consequences.

What is noise pollution?

Noise pollution refers to all sounds in an environment that are caused by humans and that affect the health or well-being of inhabitants or animals.

There is no denying that sound is an important and valuable part of everyday life. However, when it becomes noise (unwanted, loud, unpleasant, intrusive or distracting sound), it can negatively affect our physical and mental health.

Noise pollution must be recognized as a serious problem that deserves our attention in order to find sustainable and realistic ways to manage and reduce it.

Noise pollution affect the health of plants

Researchers have found that long-term noise pollution can discourage normal plant growth, with the effects showing in habits years later.

Studies on the consequences of excessive noise have focused on humans, and loud sounds are known to cause noise-induced hearing loss, sleep disorders, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension, among other health problems.

Although bearable noise level standards for plants are still unknown, a California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) study published in April found that regular exposure to high sound levels affects a plant’s long-term development even after the source of the noise has been removed.

According to the study, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, noise pollution negatively affected tree seedlings and wood uniformity. The research was first conducted 12 years ago in a forest dominated by pinyons and junipers in New Mexico, United States, near natural gas wells.

The researchers found that seedlings were 75% fewer where noisy compressors were used compared to sites with less noise.

When the scientists returned to conclude the study, it was found that the noise had affected pinyon development and seedlings had not yet sprouted in previously noisy sites.

Noise effects

Being regularly subjected to excessive noise in the environment causes multiple problems. Although hearing loss is the most widespread effect, noise pollution has a long list of repercussions at the physiological level, being able to cause an increase in heart and respiratory rate and can even affect the functioning of the digestive system in the form of colitis or gastritis.

If there is a place where noise pollution produces harmful effects, it is in the ecosystem of cities. Being the places with the highest rate of contamination of this type, it is not uncommon to see how the environment of large population centers changes.

Birds in a city need to sing and call longer (and louder) than their own species when they live in the countryside. In fact, due to noise pollution, some species such as the European robin that lives in cities have begun to sing at night, so that they can be heard and survive by reproducing.

In the same way, all those animals that depend on sound to hunt, or not be hunted, also leave the environment of the cities. For their part, canaries, animals that we usually keep in our homes, are greatly affected by the noise of the city, causing harmful effects on their health.

They are not the only species that are affected. It has been studied how traffic noise also affects the reproductive process of frogs in metropolitan areas. That noise drowns out the males’ mating calls, so they can’t be perpetuated.

As we can see, noise pollution not only has harmful effects on people’s health. It also seriously affects animals and, through them, the balance of ecosystems, both terrestrial and marine, is negatively altered.

Unfortunately, noise pollution is one of those environmental problems that we do not give all the importance that they have. Therefore, any action to raise awareness of this pollution, or reduce it, is essential for a sustainable future.

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