The Battle Against Noise Pollution
Sep 18, 2018

As more people live on the planet, we contribute to noise pollution in big ways. It means more vehicles on the roads, more air travel, more train travel, more machines running, and so on. Noise pollution damages our eco-system as well as our homes and buildings we live and work inside. So how are we combatting noise pollution?

Stone Walls Along High-Traffic Areas

Cities are employing their department of transportation services to look at ways to cut down on noise pollution. Many are opting for those giant concrete or stone slabs we see lining major highways and companies are now specializing their skills around noise pollution. Salt Lake City-based Aftec’s stone wall panels are just one example of what we are seeing pop up in cities across the United States. Their function is quite simple: they deflect or absorb the noise that is being generated so that those on the other side of the walls do not hear the sounds as much. You may still hear a bit, but not at the level it would be without the wall panel.

Repaving the Roads

In Phoenix, Arizona, the city has begun a new repaving project of the highways to lessen noise pollution. This project mixes concrete and recycled rubber tire bits. Once it is on the highway, it is meant to absorb the noise of the tires on the highways. It has been suggested that a majority of noise pollution from the highways is from the tires, not the engines like many of us believe. While it has been effective at reducing some of the noise, it’s also been very effective at finding a new way to recycle old tires. For Phoenix, it’s been a win-win situation.

Using Headphone Technology

In Singapore, scientists have found a fascinating way to utilize noise-canceling headphone technology and apply it to your open windows. It's a small device that affixes to your open window area and then absorbs the noise pollution from outside. Since the headphones do allow for some sound to come through, there will be some sound in your open window but it won’t be nearly as noisy.

Lowering Local Roads

Another interesting movement we are seeing overseas in Europe is the lowering of local roads. The idea of lowering the road means the noise is less likely to invade citizens in a particular area. Most noticeably, it has been effective when combined with paving the roads with rubber bits. Sometimes you simply need more than one course of action to make the biggest impact.

Lessening Traffic

This idea has not been as popular in the US but we are hoping to see it catch on. Lessening traffic is one of the more ideal methods for reducing noise pollution and the Europeans seem to have a grasp on this ideology. Some cities are now rezoning and changing their roadway systems so that it is more difficult to drive through the city and encourages the use of bicycles or walking in downtown areas. This has a greater impact than many of us realize. These cities have seen a huge reduction in noise pollution and an increase in their economies. In other words, people are still spending money and shopping downtown despite the “inconvenience” of having to walk or bike in the downtown area. It also snowballs into healthier citizens between encouraged exercise and reduction of noise pollution.

What kind of noise reduction would you like to see? What if we incorporated them all in some way? Can you imagine what it would be like to be in a major city and not inundated with noise?

Written by Jane Brown