Chapters :
  • Social and Economic Costs of Noise Pollution


National Air Quality Index (AQI) has been launched in October 2014 to disseminate information on air quality in an easily understandable form for the general public. The measurement of air quality is based on eight pollutants, namely, PM10, PM2.5, NO2, SO2, CO, O3, NH3, and Pb for which short-term (up to 24-hourly averaging period) National Ambient Air Quality Standards are prescribed and the worst reading in these pollutants represents the AQI for that city.


The 2005 World Health Organization’s “WHO Air quality guidelines” offer global guidance on thresholds and limits for 4 key air pollutants that pose health risks –  particulate matter (PM), ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and sulfur dioxide (SO2).

Guideline values prescribed by WHO are

PM 2.510 μg/m3 annual mean
25 μg/m3 24-hour mean
PM 1020 μg/m3 annual mean
50 μg/m3 24-hour mean
O3100 μg/m3 8-hour mean
NO240 μg/m3 annual mean
200 μg/m3 1-hour mean
SO220 μg/m3 24-hour mean
500 μg/m3 10-minute mean

The WHO Guidelines indicate that by reducing particulate matter (PM10) pollution from 70 to 20 micrograms per cubic metre (μg/m), air pollution-related deaths can be cut by around 15In%. Indian Standards are slightly less stringent as compared to WHO guidelines. However, the world’s average PM10 levels by region range from 26 to 208 μg/m3, with a world’s average of 71 μg/m3 as per WHO estimates published in 2014. 


Air pollution control devices are a series of devices that work to prevent a variety of different pollutants, both gaseous and solid, from entering the atmosphere primarily out of industrial smokestacks. These control devices can be separated into two broad categories – devices that control the amount of particulate matter escaping into the environment and devices that control acidic gas emissions.

  1. Electrostatic precipitator is a type of filter that uses static electricity to remove soot and ash from exhaust fumes before they exit the smokestacks. Unburned particles of carbon in smoke are pulled out of the smoke by using static electricity in the precipitators, leaving clean, hot air to escape the smokestacks. This unreacted carbon can affect respiratory system.
  1. SCRUBBER – are a type of system that is used to remove harmful materials from industrial exhaust gases before they are released into the environment.  It is used to specifically remove SOx it is referred to as flue gas desulfurization. There are two main types of scrubbers, Wet Scrubbers And Dry Scrubbers. The main difference is in the type of material used to remove the gases. By removing acidic gases from the exhaust before it is released into the sky, scrubbers help prevent the formation of acid rain
  2. INCINERATION – Incineration is used to convert VOC emissions into carbon dioxide and water through combustion. The incineration generally takes place in a specialized piece of equipment known as an afterburner, which is built to create the conditions necessary for complete combustion (such as sufficient burn time and a high temperature).  Additionally, the incinerated gas must be mixed to ensure complete combustion.
  3. CARBON CAPTURECarbon capture and storage refers to the process of capturing this carbon dioxide and storing it below ground, pumping it into geologic layers. This process is rarely being used, but is talked about extensively as a way to limit greenhouse gas emissions leading to climate change.
  4. Catalytic converter is an exhaust emission control device that reduces toxic gases and pollutants in exhaust gas from an internal combustion engine into less-toxic pollutants by catalysing a redox reaction (an oxidation and a reduction reaction). They are also used on some wood stoves to control emissions.

Additionally other measures like reducing pollution by sustainable consumption means, deforestation, increasing carbon sinks etc is required. 


Noise pollution is generally defined as regular exposure to elevated sound levels that may lead to adverse effects in humans or other living organisms. According to the World Health Organization, sound levels less than 70 dB are not damaging to living organisms, regardless of how long or consistent the exposure is. Exposure for more than 8 hours to constant noise beyond 85 dB may be hazardous. 


  • Street Traffic Sounds From Cars, Buses, Pedestrians, Ambulances Etc.
    • Construction Sounds Like Drilling Or Other Heavy Machinery In Operation
  • Airports, With Constant Elevated Sounds From Air Traffic, I.E. Planes Taking Off Or Landing
  • Workplace Sounds, Often Common In Open-Space Offices
  • Constant Loud Music In Or Near Commercial Venues
  • Industrial Sounds Like Fans, Generators, Compressor, Mills Train Stations Traffic
  • Household Sounds, From The Television Set To Music Playing On The Stereo Or Computer, Vacuum Cleaners, Fans And Coolers, Washing Machines, Dishwashers, Lawnmowers Etc.
  • Events Involving Fireworks, Firecrackers, Loudspeakers Etc.
  • Conflicts Generate Noise Pollution Through Explosions, Gunfire Etc. The Dysfunctions, In This Case, Are Likely Caused By The Conflict And Insecurity And Less By The Noise Pollution In Itself, Although That Compounds Stress Levels Too.

Impact of Noise Pollution

  1. Human health 
  • HYPERTENSION is, in this case, a direct result of noise pollution caused elevated blood levels for a longer period of time.
  • Hearing loss can be directly caused by noise pollution, whether listening to loud music in your headphones or being exposed to loud drilling noises at work, heavy air or land traffic, or separate incidents in which noise levels reach dangerous intervals, such as around140 dB for adult or 120 dB for children.
  • SLEEP DISTURBANCES are usually caused by constant air or land traffic at night, and they are a serious condition in that they can affect everyday performance and lead to serious diseases.
  • Child development. Children appear to be more sensitive to noise pollution, and a number of noise-pollution-related diseases and dysfunctions are known to affect children, from hearing impairment to psychological and physical effects. Also, children who regularly use music players at high volumes are at risk of developing hearing dysfunctions. In 2001, it was estimated that 12.5% of American children between the ages of 6 to 19 years had impaired hearing in one or both ears
  • Cardiovascular dysfunctions Elevated blood pressure caused by noise pollution, especially during the night, can lead to various cardiovascular diseases.
  • Dementia isn’t necessarily caused by noise pollution, but its onset can be favoured or compounded by noise pollution.

Psychological dysfunctions and noise annoyance. Noise annoyance is, in fact, a recognized name for an emotional reaction that can have an immediate impact.

  1. WILDLIFE AND MARINE LIFEOil Drills, Sonars, Seismic Survey Devices, Coastal Recreational Watercraft and Shipping Vessels are now populating our waters, and that is a serious cause of noise pollution for marine life. Whales are among the most affected, as their hearing helps them orient themselves, feed and communicate. Noise pollution thus interferes with cetaceans’ (whales and dolphins) feeding habits, reproductive patterns and migration routes, and can even cause hemorrhage and death. Other than marine life, land animals are also affected by noise pollution in the form of traffic, firecrackers etc., and birds are especially affected by the increased air traffic and also the extension of settlements into animal corridors. 
  2. Social and Economic Costs of Noise Pollution

The World Health Organization estimates that one out of three people in Europe is harmed by traffic noise. More than the purely medical effects of noise pollution on the individual, there is a significant social and economic impact. Since noise pollution leads to sleep disturbance, it affects the individual’s work performance during the day, it leads to Hypertension And Cardiovascular Disease and costs the health system additional time and money, and it negatively affects school performance in children.

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