The Green Blog
Not Seen, But Heard
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Because Delta Zeta Sorority's national philanthropy is speech and hearing, our service and support touches all areas of this cause, from providing hearing aids to underserved populations with our partner, Starkey Hearing Foundation, to spearheading important hearing loss prevention programs such as our own Learn 2 Listen , to fulfilling our pledge to "give graciously" through our Hike For Hearing movement.

We know that noise pollution is detrimental to humans, as Merriam-Webster's Dictionary defines it: "loud or unpleasant noise that is caused by automobiles, airplanes, etc., and that is harmful or annoying to the people who can hear it," and can contribute to permanent hearing loss, among other health issues. At Pink Goes Green, we would argue that humans aren't the only ones detrimentally affected by noise pollution; it affects the environment and the creatures who inhabit it with devastating effects.

So just how does noise pollution do this? Sound plays a key role in the ecosystem. The National Park Service indicates that the acoustical environment affects wildlife in terms of its ability to find adequate habitat, avoid predators, protect young, locate food and attract a mate. As noise pollution from human beings in the form of motor vehicle and airplane traffic among other causes increases, wildlife is forced to adapt in ways that are not sustainable. For example, researchers discovered that the males of a particular frog species began calling at a higher pitch in an effort to distinguish their calls from traffic noise. However, the females of that species prefer a lower pitch, which means there is less successful mating within the species in general.

The National Park Service says, "That old expression, 'The early bird gets the worm,' turns out to be truer than ever in urban settings today. In fact, recent studies are finding that some birds in noisy environments have taken to singing at night in order to be heard over the din of the city (Fuller et al., 2007).

"In general, a growing number of studies indicate that wildlife, like humans, is stressed by a noisy environment. The endangered Sonoran pronghorn avoids noisy areas frequented by military jets; gleaning bats avoid hunting in areas with road noise (Barber et al., 2009). When these effects are combined with other stressors such as winter weather, disease and food shortages, sound impacts can have important implications for the health and vitality of wildlife populations within a park." (http://www.nps.gov/)

We have more control than we think over noise pollution that is detrimental to us (elevated blood pressure, impaired cognitive functioning, cardiovascular and psychophysiological effects, heart attacks, reduced performance, provoke annoyance responses and changes in social behavior) and to nature. Everythingconnects.org has some great ideas here.

Remember, too, that social events, such as concerts, sporting events and outdoor celebrations, like the Fourth of July or Canada Day, are just as powerful a source of noise pollution.

Rock concerts are approximately 120 dB (decibels), about the same as sports fans at a large event, and fireworks can reach the 150 to 175 decibel range. Hearing protection, such as ear plugs or headphone-style hearing protection, are the safest way to go.

And don't forget your pets! Many are terrified of loud noises, especially fireworks and thunder, so use these great tips to keep your furry friends calm during the noise. Recognizing that noise pollutions is just as detrimental as other pollutants in our world is the first step to stopping it.

For more resources and ways to help, visit the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse.