The Harmful Impact of Noise and Light Pollution on Humans
December 30, 2018
There is no doubt about the fact that we are now living in the true age of technology which has made modern life a lot more convenient than was ever thought possible by our previous generations. Remember when cellphones were not a thing? However, all that convenience does come with a hefty price that goes beyond just the financial toll. While there are multiple other harmful aspects of living in a modern urban area as well, today we will try and understand the impact of noise and light pollution on the human body.
Impact of Noise Pollution Everything from ongoing traffic down the street and flying planes overhead, to loudspeakers in public places and the loud music next door can cause both direct and indirect damage to human health. Take a look at the following to understand some of those adverse effects. The busy malls, the standstill traffic and loud music in bars are just examples.
Cognitive Impairment Sleep is not only necessary for us to function on a daily basis, but regular and sufficient sleep is also essential for the brain to be able to form memories, ignite creativity, make sound decisions and regulate psychomotor skills with efficiency, among many other things. As noise is the primary reason as to why people lose sleep in the city, it is therefore responsible for temporary and permanent cognitive impairment in humans.
Physiological Problems Noise pollution has been found to elevate or even cause symptoms of hypertension, heart disease, liver disease, poor digestion, migraines, neurological stress and of course, impaired hearing from direct and/or long term exposure.
Psychological Problems Multiple studies have shown that people who stay in noisy environments tend to suffer from mood disorders, insomnia, depression, chronic anxiety and various other mental disorders. This holds particularly true for those of us who must also sleep in noisy environments. Being in a loud city tends to have adverse effects.
Impact of Light Pollution A lesser known pollutant as compared to noise, light is an even bigger threat to human health because of that very reason. The following should provide an idea of the kind of health problems that we can expect from excessive light pollution from street lights, house lights and even the light from our own smartphones.
Disruption of the Circadian Rythm
The circadian rhythm is basically the body’s internal clock, based on which, the brain regulates the sleep cycle. Healthy production of melatonin from the pineal gland enables the brain to properly regulate that sleep cycle, but unfortunately, melatonin production is disrupted by light pollution from ambient and direct sources. As a result of that, even long sleeping sessions are often found to be not as restorative as they should be for the body and the mind. An adequately designed sleep eye mask is the best answer to light pollution induced circadian rhythm disruption, as it keeps all wavelengths of direct and ambient light from being registered by the optic nerve. People suffering from the effects of light pollution related sleeping problems usually report immediate improvement after sleeping with a sleep mask on.
Light Pollution Can Cause Accelerated Tumor Growth
While artificial light has not been directly linked to cancer yet, studies have shown that when someone’s blood is low on melatonin, tumors have the ideal environment to grow much faster than they would in the presence of sufficient melatonin in blood. In fact, the WHO has officially stated that disruption of the circadian rhythm caused by light pollution can be considered as carcinogenic to human beings, therefore putting night-shift employees at the highest risk for developing breast and prostate cancer from the blue light emitted by LED bulbs.
As can be seen from the discussion, both noise and light pollution can have devastating effects on the human body, especially in the long term. Therefore, it is necessary for us to take every possible precaution against the two to protect our health and wellbeing, especially while sleeping.