Noise Pollution in US National Parks

Dr. Li-Korotky

Dr. Li is one of the most accomplished audiologists in the country. She has more than 20 years of research and clinical experience, and she has written more than 100 scientific studies.
Dr. Li-Korotky

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National parks in the US serve conservatory purposes and are also a pleasant getaway into nature for people. Their natural and semi-natural design is a state declared asset that supposedly characterizes tranquility; a place where people would hope to relax their ears and experience peace and quietness.

Unfortunately, the noise pollution in the US has pervaded these protected areas as well and any possibility of serenity in national parks is overcome by sounds of honking cars and other human related noise. The disastrous consequences have emerged in the form of health problems in many people, in which hearing loss is one of the main disabilities.

Noise Pollution Caused by Humans

According to studies, sixty three percent of the designated protected areas (national forests and parks primarily) in the United States have become significantly exposed to sound pollution. The propagation of noise from multiple sources has a harmful impact on human and animal life, reducing their quality of life. Such areas are no longer the escape zones, where people would go to get respite from the everyday commotion of life.

The studies conducted by researchers in national parks have ascertained that the biggest culprits that contribute to shocking levels of high noise are vehicles, aircraft and resource extraction activities (industrial produce of oil and gas extraction). The results have also indicated that noise pollution has the tendency to pervade due to which even the areas, where the use of industrial equipment is completely banned, suffer from sound pollution. With twenty-one percent of protected zones experiencing destructive levels of noise, it is only logical to conclude that people must resort to personal methods of safety as their first line of defense, in which the first and foremost precaution to take is to protect against noise induced hearing loss.

Noise Induced Hearing Loss

Noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) is the impairment of the hearing ability that results from exposure to unhealthy levels of sound. This loss of perception disables people to process narrow range of frequencies; it can even cause sensitivity to sound, often leaving a ringing sensation in the ear.

The effects of noise pollution steadily cause damage to the ear and ultimately culminate in hearing problems. The effects may at first reduce the quality of hearing and gradually progress to an intensified deterioration. The noise exposure overstimulates or overburdens the delicate hearing cells, causing them to sustain serious/irreversible injury. Once the death of hearing cells occurs in people, they can no longer be audible to anyone or anything in their surroundings. This is why the repeated exposure to unhealthy sound levels must be prevented in time.

It is extremely important for people to take notice of their declining hearing condition and seek prevention strategies that are designed to reverse these effects and ultimately avoid the prospect of hearing loss. The following are some ways to do this:

  • Listen to music at low volume
  • Limit exposure to loud noises
  • Use earplugs around loud noises
  • Relax ears by giving them time off
  • Manage stress levels
  • Take medication or proper care as directed
  • Stop using cotton swabs
  • Stop sticking anything into the ear to scratch it

 Protecting Yourself from Exposure to Loud Noise

Moreover, proper physical protection and treatment can reduce the impact of noise. People should consult their physicians and seek a proper assessment of their hearing. The hearing ability can be preserved through devices designed to aid and enhance hearing by managing the procession of sounds. Many companies today also offer the facility of manufacturing custom hearing protection. These hearing aids are tailored to the specific needs of people based off their activities and lifestyles (i.e., swimmers, hunters and workers). Custom made devices are also made to perfectly fit the ear and offer maximum comfort.

The implications resulting from hearing loss extend beyond hearing limitations, which affect the healthy portion of people’s lives in multiple ways. Their ability to reciprocate emotions, understand or judge communication, socialize and interact with people and socially integrate in fast paced environment is significantly diminished. They’re unable to use basic facilities like phones or participate in conferences in which several people are engaged in discussions at once.

People with hearing loss are largely reliant on seeing faces, and when this isn’t possible, they face a lot of difficulty. It is best for people to be on the safe side and protect their ears from the dangers of occupational exposures and leisure activities. In fact, exposure to any source of excessively high sound is destructive and can cause hearing loss in the long run.

Pacific Northwest Audiology

If you’ve noticed changes in your hearing due to exposure to loud noise and struggle with communication, contact us today. We provide comprehensive hearing health services and we’re here to help!

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