Sound barriers and home products, such as double-paned windows, help control noise pollution. Stress, hearing loss and sleep deprivation are among the health effects of uncontrolled noise pollution.
Noise pollution is any unwanted or disturbing noises that adversely affect health or quality of life. Excessive noise disrupts work and conversation, interferes with sleep, adds to stress and even causes high blood pressure. Some states and municipalities control noise pollution with the construction of sound barriers beside highways, airports or other sources of excessive noise. One type of sound barrier is a simple earth berm. Earth berms are attractive and natural and reduce sound by up to 3 decibels more than vertical walls. Unfortunately, berms require large quantities of earth and are difficult to maintain.
Vertical walls are another choice for sound barriers. Contemporary sound walls are increasingly attractive and use concrete, brick, wood or other materials. The material itself is less important than the density of the wall. Sound walls are capable of decreasing highway noise by half.
A solid, high fence surrounding a yard cuts highway noise by 5 to 10 decibels. If a fence is not an option, double-paned windows reduce highway and airport noise with the added benefit of lowering home heating and cooling costs.