Where does noise pollution come from

Let me start by telling you about a typical day in my life. Every morning, I wait for my bus to school at the bus stop next to the main road where I can hear the sound of cars zooming past and maybe the occasional honking. Upon reaching school, as I make my way to class, I am always slightly disturbed by the loud clanking of metals and the welding sparks from a nearby construction site of a new school building. After class, I normally head to the canteen for lunch where I would walk past the open-air space where school events are regularly held with music and occasional announcements blasted through the loud speakers.

These noises that I hear everyday are in fact major sources of noise pollution in urban areas. And not until I review my day did I realise how much I have been bombarded with all these noises! Thus, I encourage you to, likewise, evaluate your daily activities to get a better sense of your level of exposure to noise pollution.

Since I have established the significance of noise pollution in my previous post, it is imperative that we begin step-by-step to tackle the issue. For a start, we can be keep ourselves informed of the possible sources of noise pollution to prevent and protect ourselves from harm by looking at the different types of noise pollution.

The sources of noise pollution can be broadly divided into 2 categories:

  1. Industrial Noise

            – Factories (eg. operation of machines, motors)

            The level of noise, however, varies depending on the type of industry and capacity of machines. Lighter industries such as textile emit lower level of noise than heavy industries like steel and iron due to the lighter nature of the material and lower capacity of machines involved.

            – Construction sites (eg. operation of cranes, welding)

  1. Non-industrial Noise

            – Transportation (eg. road traffic – road-contact noise, engine noise, congestion

                                               rail traffic – wheel squeal, engine noise

                                               air traffic – aircraft taking off/landing)

            – Residential Areas (eg. cooling and heating systems, household equipments)

            – Community (eg. concerts, festivals, clubs)

It is important to take note that the level of noise from both industrial and non-industrial sources varies temporally and spatially, depending on the time of day and concentration of the sources.

By being informed that noise pollution comes from various sources we are potentially exposed to everyday, we can be more conscious about the level of risk of harm from noise pollution we are subjected to. But you might be asking, at what level do these noises go beyond being merely a nuisance to a substantial health threat? This will be covered in the following blog, so stay tuned!


WHO(1999). Guidelines on Community Noise. Retrieved August 25, 2016, from http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/environment-and-health/noise/data-and-statistics