Noise Pollution - Causes, Effects, & Prevention
The United Arab Emirates has transformed almost beyond recognition in the last few decades. All major cities, including Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah, have developed into busy hubs for commerce, trade, and industrial applications. However, just like in other parts of the world, rapid urbanization is resulting in some side effects in the form of environmental issues, such as noise pollution.
Most people are accustomed to the sounds they hear daily, including their phone’s ringtones, traffic, the sound of people talking, TVs, music, etc. All of these sounds are part of the UAE’s urban culture. Thus, they don’t bother residents too much.
However, when these sounds turn into a source of annoyance and disturbance, they’re no longer deemed acceptable. For instance, noise coming from a construction site might be acceptable during business hours. But, if these noises occur at night, they can keep you from sleeping and give you a headache.
In this post, we’ll dive deeper into noise pollution, explaining its causes and effects as well as how we can prevent it.
What Is Noise Pollution?
By definition, noise pollution is the generation of an unpleasant or excessive amount of noise from different sources. These noises can cause a temporary or long-term disruption in the natural order of our surroundings. These unwanted sounds or volumes of sounds can be categorized into two types – man-made noise and environmental noise.
Man-made noise refers to the noise created as a result of human activities, such as traffic, appliances, construction, airplanes, etc. The noise generated from these activities typically falls between 30 to 140 decibels. Similarly, environmental noise comes from natural phenomena and non-human activities, such as thunderstorms or dogs barking. In most cases, these sounds can exceed 140 decibels.
Major Causes of Noise Pollution
The following are the most common causes of noise pollution in the UAE:
The UAE is home to 47 industrial park zones with nearly 1900 factories in Dubai, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, and other areas. Most of these facilities use large machinery that produce a large amount of noise. Other sources of noise pollution in factories include generators, exhaust fans, and other processing/power equipment.
2. Construction Activities
According to Mordor Intelligence, the UAE construction market is set to reach nearly $144 billion by 2027 due to rapid urbanization. In the next few years, we can expect more bridges, roads, tunnels, flyovers, stations, and roads in different parts of the Emirates.
The activities involved in construction, such as mining, resource transportation, heavy-duty equipment usage, etc., are the top contributors to noise pollution in the Emirates.
3. Vehicular and Air Traffic
Nearly 40% of UAE’s 10.2 million population drives around the Emirates in their cars. As of 2022, there are over 3.5 million cars on the roads. In recent years, there have been massive developments in public transportation with the emergence of new buses and trains reducing the number of vehicles on the road.
Plus, the country has a strict no-honking policy which is a great initiative to reduce noise pollution on busy roads. The UAE also has one of the largest air vessel fleets (400+ airplanes) belonging to two national airlines – Etihad and Fly Emirates. Noise from just one aircraft passing through is equal to 130 dB.
Effects of Noise Pollution
The following are some of the main effects of noise pollution:
1. Hearing Problems
Any unwanted sound can cause problems within the body, especially in our ears. For instance, man-made noises via horns or construction equipment can often be too loud for our hearing range. Too much exposure to this noise can lead to eardrum damage, hearing loss, or even deafness.
2. Other Health Issues
Noise pollution can impact our bodies in many ways. For instance, constant exposure can increase blood pressure and cause headaches. In extreme cases, it can result in respiratory agitation or even a heart attack.
3. Communication Issues
High decibel noise coming from different sources, such as centrifugal fans or machinery, can make it difficult to communicate with others, leading to misunderstandings or even behavioral issues.
4. Psychological Issues
Excessive noise pollution, especially in urban areas with many commercial buildings, construction sites, and recreation spots, can influence our cognitive behavior. Many studies show that noise can make us more aggressive, irritated, angry, stressed, or depressed in some cases. It can also affect our ability to focus, resulting in reduced information retention or recall.
How to Limit or Prevent Noise Pollution
The UAE is home to thousands of residential buildings, offices, factories, schools, and other sources of noise pollution. Plus, with rapid urbanization, industrialization, and population growth, the problems are expected to continue.
Fortunately, the Emirates has formed dedicated municipalities to monitor and manage noise pollution. For instance, the Dubai Municipality has established key performance indicators to monitor the amount of noise generated from different areas (residential/commercial) to penalize breaches.
However, residents and businesses can also play their part in limiting or preventing noise pollution by adopting some of the following practices:
- Sound-proofing spaces where noise is generated
- Keeping noisy appliances away from living and working areas
- Opting for noise-reducing furniture
- Closing the windows when working with noisy equipment
- Investing in ear-plugs or noise-canceling headphones
- Following the noise limits as per the local municipality
- Opting for quieter or sound-proof equipment, etc.
At RECAPP, we aim to educate our clients and readers regarding different types of pollution and how they can play their part in reducing or preventing them from leading a better lifestyle. Noise pollution is becoming a growing problem, especially in industrial and commercial areas in the UAE.
By learning what it is and how it affects our lives, we can take proactive measures to reduce or prevent unnecessary disturbance or annoyance.