Noise pollution: how to measure and how to defend yourself

Noise pollution: how to measure and how to defend yourself

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L'noise pollution it can exasperate our psychophysical balance and cause great forms of irritability. Even worse if we are used to calm and quiet environments and for some reason we are forced to change our lifestyle and face the noises coming from the metropolitan jungle or more simply by a harassing neighbor.

What does noise pollution mean

The definition of noise pollution is included in Article 2 of Law 447 of 1995 which reads:

"The introduction of noise in the living environment or in the external environment such as to cause nuisance or disturbance to rest and human activities, danger to human health, deterioration of ecosystems, material assets, monuments, the living environment or of the external environment or such as to interfere with the normal functions of the environments themselves "

You can access all the terms of the legislation on Noise Pollution by downloading this pdf file: "Noise Pollution Regulations - law 447 “.

How noise pollution is measured

The noise and therefore the level of noise pollution is measured through a special unit of measurement called decibel.

The instrument for measuring the intensity of environmental noise is the sound level meter (also called decibelmeter) and can be purchased for a few Euros on Amazon.

We have bought for example this professional model for only 18.99 euros which works perfectly by showing the value in decibels on the appropriate display with a measurement range between 30 dBA and 130 dBA with an accuracy within +/- 1.5dB.

Professional sound level meter to measure noise pollution

Noise pollution: what the legislation provides

The protection of the external environment from the harmful effects deriving fromnoise pollution must be carried out, according to current legislation and through the following actions:

  • provision of specific noise acceptability limits, in terms of absolute emission values ​​and emission of noisy events in the territory;
  • drafting of acoustic zoning plans;
  • drafting of noise abatement plans if environmental noise levels exceed the aforementioned emission and / or emission limit values;
  • drafting of short, medium and long-term action plans aimed at bringing the environmental noise levels back to certain optimal values, the so-called quality values.

There legislation on noise pollution provides six acoustic classes according to the prevailing intended use in the specific territorial area and for each acoustic class it sets the absolute limits of noise pollutionin turn identified according to the reference period in two time bands, the day one that goes from 6 to 22 and the night one that goes from 10 to 6.

The limits of noise pollution are subject to the adoption by the Municipalities of the Acoustic Zoning Plans of the territory, in order to divide the municipal area into six different areas and obtain limit values ​​based on the characteristic environment of the specific area.

Below we propose a table with the classification of the territory in relation to the 6 classes identified by law:

The sources and causes of noise pollution

The sources of noise pollution are many and can be framed in various systems, from the domestic one to the work one up to transport systems where horns, engines, railway systems and air traffic can represent a big problem.

L'noise pollution linked to the traffic of cars powered by a traditional internal combustion engine is one of the main causes of environmental noise in cities and could be eliminated with the spread of areas with stringent speed limits, improvement of public transport service, diffusion of cycle paths, diffusion of electric cars and other measures aimed at discouraging the intensive use of cars in the city.

Consequences of noise pollution

Already Freud had noticed that thenoise pollution could be a cause of strong irritability, he spoke of "auditory hyperesthesia”Which is manifested by a strong intolerance to noises. In 1995, the need was felt to insert a law that would govern and provide a definition of what is thenoise pollution, thus, in Article 2 of Law 447 we read:

"The introduction of noise in the living environment or in the external environment such as to cause nuisance or disturbance to rest and human activities, danger to human health, deterioration of ecosystems, material assets, monuments, the living environment or of the external environment or such as to interfere with the normal functions of the environments themselves "

Isn't all this exaggerated for a little noise? Absolutely not! Limit cases of noise pollution can lead to damage such as hearing loss, temporary alteration of an organ or system and the so-called "annoyance " which refers to a broader spectrum of ailments and discomforts that affect the subject's sensitivity.

Damage to the hearing system or organs are more common in work environments where there is loud noises. The cases of annoyance they are very common in the urban environment and in the chaos of the city, in this case there is no mention of "damage" but of disturbances and can also be caused by household appliances or other commonly used equipment.

A study by the Dutch Ministry of the Environment, whose data were released in 2013, shows that thenoise pollution generated by traffic causes damage to 44% of the population of the European Union with associated costs of as much as 326 billion euros related to healthcare costs. The negative consequences for health ascertained concern cardiovascular effects, sleep-wake rhythm disturbances, hearing problems with the increasingly frequent occurrence of the disorder known as "ringing in the ear".

Research by the European Environment Center in Bonn found that more than 60% of the European urban population is exposed to a excessive level of ambient noise with values ​​greater than 55 decibels.

Spend a vacation in a city free from noise pollution, returning home and being catapulted into the local urban chaos is a strong point stress psychological. Unfortunately, it is a risk that occurs when choosing a tourist destination that favors relaxation and silence, such as an island in the Maldives or simply Trentino Alto Adige or Copenhagen where all pollution is reduced to a minimum, including that acoustic.

Noise pollution and childhood

Children are very sensitive tonoise pollution and for this reason it is important to safeguard them and keep them away from noise sources, especially during the neonatal phase. Also impulsive noises, that is characterized by a rapid variation of level that exceeds 40 dB in less than a second could undermine a correct emotional development.

Even “single and unexpected” noises can annoy newborns. Think, for example, how the simple fall of an object on the floor, for example a plate that breaks on the floor, can cause the start of a cry.

In these cases, the most effective remedy is simply to distract the child immediately by showing off a nice smile or starting to laugh.

Noise pollution and property depreciation

Theren noise pollution in addition to damaging our health it can also take us economic damage, for example, as the cause of a possible devaluation of our real estate assets.

Estimates from the real estate market say that between two similar apartments, one quiet and the other noisy, the price difference can reach 15 percent.

How do you defend yourself? From the first type of noise pollution, the external one, defends oneself by carefully observing the context in which one thinks of going to live. On how to evaluate a house for purchase or for rent, the rule is to return to the place several times and at different times, even unaccompanied by the seller who will almost certainly tend to always make appointments at quieter times. To evaluate thenoise pollution inside, instead, you have to look at the documents, and if necessary, also request a verification.

For thenoise pollution internal the reference standard is the Dpcm 5/12/1997 which establishes the passive acoustic requirements of buildings. The law in practice prescribes that slabs and vertical walls must be insulated in order to contain within certain limits the transmission of both airborne noise (the voices between a building unit and the other) and footfall noises (the impact of steps and objects from the upper floor) and those caused by the systems in operation.

Documents certifying compliance with the passive acoustic requirements must be requested from the seller. The most astute builders have understood that putting real estate on the market without problems noise pollution it is also in their interest because it testifies to the good quality of the work and protects everyone from possible disputes, two things that customers are usually willing to monetize.

But what if the property is dated? In this case, it is not uncommon to find buildings where acoustic insulation is non-existent and often also thermal insulation, which is common in houses built in the 60's-90's. The trouble is that the defenses againstnoise pollution internal are not easily achievable afterwards and any intervention risks being a palliative. Some interesting ideas may come from our articles specifically dedicated to sound insulation.

Noise pollution, who to contact

Call the carabinieri, the brigade, the police or other law enforcement agencies, in case of noise pollution, does not always have the desired effects. In fact, it is not to these law enforcement agencies that one must file a complaint or report.

On the subject ofnoiseisnoise pollution, thelawit is always on the user's side but foresees difficult protection mechanisms.

In case of nuisance caused by noise pollution due to noise coming from outside the house, the control and sound level verification activities are carried out by the area ARPA.

L'HARP is theEnvironmental Protection Agency and also plays the role of regulating and protecting the environment from sources of noise pollution.

In the event of external noise sources (clubs, pubs, discos, bathing establishments ...), you must not call the police or traffic police, you should put out an exposure for noise pollution to theMunicipality of belonging, at the counter dedicated to the Environmental Sector.

Attached at the end of the paragraph, you will find the form to fill in to report a source of noise pollution. The form, completed and suitably modified according to the requests of your local administration, must be submitted to the Municipality of Residence, at the Environmental Sector.

Useful link: model for signaling noise pollution

The same exposed can also be used in the case ofnoise pollution produced by neighbors. If the neighbors have installed a particularly noisy boiler or air conditioner near your window, you can appeal to Article 844 of the Civil Code.

If the source of noise does not comply with the requirements of the framework law 447 of 1995, it will be possible to intervene.

When thenoise pollutionit does not come from outside your building but concerns problems related tonoises inside the same building, it will be necessary to contact a qualified technician to carry out checks using the sound level meter.

Noise pollution: technological remedies

If we fail to enforce our rights to limit the'noise pollution warned in our home we can at least try to identify technological solutions that help us to "live" with noise.

The most important moment of the day to safeguard in the course of our day is certainly that of sleep.

Moreover, at night even the slightest noises can be a great annoyance, especially if aggravated by the fact of being impulsive, repetitive or even worse associated with vibrations.

In these cases, technology can help us.

A simple but very practical and economical product is for example this special one headband equipped with integrated bluetooth earphones.

Just connect it to your smartphone to listen to your favorite melodies to fall asleep or even better special compilations that bring to mind a relaxing natural environment ideal for falling asleep. Some of the most popular sounds are for example the chirping of birds, the sound of the sea, a waterfall or a river or the rustling of the leaves of a forest.

But a classical music compilation could also work.

You can buy it on in this page, currently at 27.59 euros.

I also remind you that modern music listening software such as Deezer or Spotify have a scheduled listening time function so you can plan the ideal listening time within which you are expected to fall asleep.

Video: How to protect yourself from the harmful effects of Noise Pollution (June 2022).


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