Question: In terms of the overall human health impacts in the community, which problem do you feel is worse, noise pollution or radon pollution? Why? Be sure to justify your position with evidence from the literature.
Pollution of all kinds and in all its manifestations has already threatened the whole humanity and made the scholars discuss various global problems, their formation forces, present conditions and possible consequences of the issues and ways of their solution. Noise and radon pollution are among the burning issues that touch upon everyone irrespective of his or her place of living, age or occupation.
According to the statistics disposed in World Health Organization Community Noise more than a half of population in different countries is subjected to noise pollution. Noise is caused by different factors, such as traffic, industrial and railway noise, aircraft operations, building works, sonic boom, etc. Automatic industry creates severe noise tribulations, influencing a major part of the working city residents to potentially destructive sound pressure noise levels. Different sources of noise with high pressure levels may be classified the following way: neighbors, leisure activities, different business and home appliances. Acoustic waves evoke the response that causes impulses which are transmitted to the brain. As we are constantly experiencing annoying noise in our daily life it strongly affects our mind and physical index. Unwanted sounds influence not only our psychological health but also physical well-being and seriously damage it. These sounds result in aggression, stress, discomfort, etc. Seriousness of these effects depends on the loudness of the sound, pressure level of noise and individual perception. Aircraft operations, for instance, have caused severe community noise problems over the past 30 years. This noise source has been significantly reduced in modern high by-pass ratio turbo-fan engines which surround the high velocity jet exhaust with a lower velocity airflow generated by the fan (Federal Aviation Administration, Aviation Noise Effects, 1985.) No doubt one can get used to noise and no longer notice it, it does not interfere with the activity, this phenomenon is called loudness adaptation, but nevertheless it damages hearing and can lead to hearing defects, deafness, let alone minor hearing loss. According to the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse Library data one-third of Americans suffer from hearing loss to a certain extent. But this non-profit organization which tries to control noise pollution and raise people’s alertness of the issue cooperates in favor of the problem solution. As surely being a symptom of big cities, industrial and densely populated regions on the whole, the problem is not neglected. What is more, noise pollution causes airwave cancer in some cases and hair cell of inner ear destruction in many of them. It also increases the risk of heart attacks, blood pressure problems and nervousness of people irrespective of their age, especially senior ones and those who are more susceptible to noise. Former U. S. Surgeon General Dr. William H. Stewart concluded his speech with the words: “Calling noise a nuisance is like calling smog an inconvenience. Noise must be considered a hazard to the health of people everywhere”.
Radon pollution is guileful and unexpected as radon is an invisible natural gas which does not smell or taste but threatens humans and animals. Consisting of radioactive particles it is dangerous and causes lung cancer. According to the latest data of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization indoor radon inhalation results in cancer and is the second leading cause of this disease in America after smoking. According to the World Health Organization about 15% lung cancers appear because of radon radiation. Dr. Michael Repacholi, coordinator of World Health Organization’s Radiation and Environmental Health Unit mentioned: “Radon poses an easily reducible health risk to populations all over the world, but has not up to now received widespread attention”. Radon pollution can cause different symptoms such as coughing, tiredness, irritability, discomfort in lungs and aggravated asthma. One can never know when radon gets into the building and raises the indoor radon level, so being affected one may never guess. The Environmental Protection Agency has severely recommended to test all buildings’ ground and first floors for radon. A lot of organizations are concerned about radon pollution and much has already been done but the results of poisoning are horrible and may result even in death. Both radon and noise pollution are not an obligatory price for living in industrial region or radon contaminated area. Hence, radon as well as noise influences both mind and body, so this leads to mental disorder, tiredness, hearing problems, problems with sleeping, etc.
Annually thousands of people die from cancer and suffer from various kinds of noise, both industrial and non-industrial. But they can try to protect themselves from noise and unpleasant sounds, there appear ways of hearing protection and sound insulation with the development of technologies and some appliances which will not allow sounds interfere with activity and rest when they are indoors. In short, they may take some acoustic measures, such as sound reduction in buildings. But it is not so easy to protect oneself from outdoor industrial noise which is far more irritating, causes spontaneous complaints, residential moving and does not allow to concentrate at work and to relax at home. Living in the streets with heavy traffic has already become unbearable, as no doubt sound pressure level is higher in noisy cities than in rural areas.
It may seem that in terms of the overall human health impacts in the community the noise problem is worse, but I suppose it is the other way round. Invisible gas, radon, is far more dangerous because it is considered to be the second main cause of lung cancer, which frequently results in death while noise pollution evokes mental problems and hearing loss. So the consequences of its influence are not always so serious and may be cured. Radon poison sneaks up to a person imperceptibly and is hard to be noticed in time.
Radon health impact appears to be more all-embracing, though these two types of pollution are hard to be compared being practically equally serious and worth studying, analyzing and struggling against them for the benefit of future generations. As nowadays noise problems are not just unsolved; they are redoubled together with progress. The World Health Organization cooperates with other associations in favor noise reduction and decreasing of radon pollution regarding the significance of their actions for society.
- Kryter, Karl D. The Handbook of Hearing and the Effects of Noise: Physiology, Psychology, and Public Health. San Diego, Calif.: Academic Press, 1994.
- Saenz, A. Lara, and R. W. B. Stephens, eds. Noise Pollution: Effects and Control. New York: Wiley, 1986.