Typical Types of Noise Problems

Some types of noise can endanger your hearing; others are just incredibly annoying. What is your worst noise problem?

What is noise? When we think about noise pollution, we usually think of environmental sources of noise:
  • Traffic noise (cars, buses, trucks)
  • Planes
  • Lawn mowers, leaf blowers, snow blowers
  • Construction noise

These noises can be quite loud, the kind that can damage our hearing if we are exposed to them for too long.

But in fact, noise is any unwanted sound. Some noises are not particularly loud but are unwanted for other reasons. Here are some other noises that might be part of your environment:
  • Barking dogs (or caterwauling cats!)
  • Boom cars
  • Noisy neighbors
  • Nearby businesses and their clientele

Many sources of noise are inside our own homes:
  • Home appliances: Vacuum cleaners, dishwashers, air conditioners, treadmills, washing machines, refrigerators, toilets, fans, computers and their accessories
  • Slamming doors, squeaky hinges, creaky floors
  • TV, especially TV commercials
  • Alarm clocks and other alarm sounds

When you leave your home and go to work, school, or other places, the onslaught continues:
  • Industrial (factory) noise
  • Classroom noise
  • Piped-in music and announcements in stores, shopping malls, restaurants, and airports
  • Very loud music levels at nightclubs and concerts

Traveling has its own noise hazards:
  • Air travel: The dull background roar of the plane itself, or noises made by fellow passengers
  • Motorcycle travel: Engine noise, or the sound of the air rushing past your ears
  • Car travel: The roar of the air blowing in through open windows, or road noise transmitted through the tires
  • Car accidents: The sound made by a deploying airbag can be literally deafening

Some hobbies involve loud sounds, at decibel levels that can endanger your hearing:

Of course, people make noise too! They're not doing it to be annoying (usually!), but if the sound bothers you, it's noise just the same. Examples are:
  • A baby crying or wailing
  • Children screaming or yelling
  • A spouse or roommate snoring
  • A co-worker making sounds that disrupt your concentration
  • A cell phone user having a loud conversation in a public place

Even quiet sounds can be unwanted. Have you ever been kept awake by an insistent cricket that would not stop chirping, or by the relentless tick-tock-tick-tock of a clock?

Whether it can damage your hearing, threaten your sanity, or simply add to the overall stress in your life, each of the above is an example of noise.

What sounds do you find most annoying? Take the survey! And see how others have voted.


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