What’s the issue?
If you’re like us, one of the first things you may do in the morning is look outside your window or check your air quality index app to see if it’s going to be a “blue sky” day. But how many of us pay attention to the noise pollution in China’s inner cities?
Noise pollution is unwanted sound which affects human health, behaviour and quality of living.
Noise pollution in China has many origins, predominantly traffic, construction and machine operation noise.
According to the China Environmental Noise Prevention and Control Report released by the Ministry of Environmental Protection in February 2012, noise pollution is the second most complained about form of pollution in China constituting over one third of complaints received.
Acceptable levels of noise pollution
World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines for community noise recommend less than 30 A-weighted decibels (dB(A)) in bedrooms during the night for a sleep of good quality and less than 40 dB(A) of annual average (Lnight) outside of bedrooms to prevent adverse health effects from night noise.
Should we be concerned about China’s noise pollution? 5 reasons to pay attention.
- According to the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau, the community noise level in Hadian district reaches 75.3 decibels during the day and 76.1 decibels at night – more than double recommended by the WHO. To put that into perspective, that’s the equivalent of having an electric shaver on constantly (80 decibels), or half the noise a plane emits during take-off (150 decibels).
- According to the World Health Organizations, noise pollution can be harmful to human health and “can disturb sleep, cause cardiovascular and psychophysiological effects, reduce performance and provoke annoyance responses and changes in social behaviour”.
- A 1999 WHO study on the health effects of noise pollution found a link between noise pollution above 70 decibels and hypertension
- A University of California, Berkley, study in 2007 found continued exposure to noise pollution lead to presbycusis – hearing loss and tinnitus.
- The Beijing Municipal Institute of Labor Protection, which compiled noise pollution measures across a 12 sq km area of Beijing between 2006 and 2009 Beijing found average noise pollution above 69 decibels. The blue areas in the map below represent areas where noise pollution reached highs of 75 decibels or more.
What can you do to protect yourself?
There are a number of ways to minimize the effects of noise pollution.
An investment in double glazed windows (not always present in inner city Chinese apartments) can help to reduce noise pollution by up to 35 decibels.
Sound proof earphones can also help reduce the effects of noise pollution during the day.
White noise machines are also a proven effective way to combat noise pollution and according to Science magazine, can “block incoming distraction-causing sounds”. Read more about our range of white noise machines here.