The EPA defines noise pollution as noise that is unwanted or disturbing, and can interfere with activities such as conversations and sleep. Noise pollution can diminish an individual's quality of life by interfering with these daily activities. The major contributors of noise pollution can affect both urban and rural areas.
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Traffic from roadways is considered the leading cause of noise pollution. Noises caused by heavy traffic, car horns, running motors and truck transportation all contribute to noise pollution. Because truck transportation is a common occurrence, the noises coming from the engines and exhaust systems of large trucks generate the highest amount of noise on highway systems. These noises can impact community life and the hearing of the individual driving the truck. Noises from automobiles driving in cities can grow louder as the cars drive through narrow streets or around tall buildings that create a trap for noise.
As air travel remains popular across the country, noise pollution from aircrafts can cause disturbances in communities that lie under flight paths or in areas of wilderness that were previously unaffected by noise from aeroplanes flying overhead. Low-flying military aeroplanes can add additional disturbances in areas of high traffic.
Communities that are near active railroads or that have railroads going through the neighbourhoods tend to experience higher levels of noise pollution than those without active railroads. Noises from train engines, blaring horns and whistles and shunting operations can create disturbances in nearby communities. The high-frequency squeals from rail car retarders can create noises that reach 120 decibels from only 100 feet away. These noises can disturb and harm affected communities, while also harming the eardrums of the railroad conductors working on the trains.
Construction is a source of noise pollution that affects urban areas more than rural areas. Highway, street and budding construction can disturb neighbouring communities and contribute heavily to urban noise pollution in affected areas. Noises include pneumatic hammers, air compressors, tractors and bulldozers, dump trucks and the back up alarms associated with these pieces of equipment.
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