The walls of my apartment click. The radiator pops. The refrigerator hums and my sink gurgles. Even when police cars aren’t sounding their alarms toward my window (a fairly common occurrence), my apartment is seldom in a state of silence. I’ve come to accept the barrage of excessive sound as an unavoidable product of urban living, but according to Elizabeth Svaboda in Science & Spirit, that noise could be causing more harm than I know.
Citing a recent study on people’s reactions to noise, Svaboda writes that “excessive noise made people more violent and aggressive, increased their risk of heart problems and sleep deficits, decimated their productivity, and impaired their ability to learn. In short, unwanted noise degraded almost every aspect of their lives.” When people hear loud noises, the evolutionary “fight or flight” response kicks in, creating major physiological changes. The constant noise people experience every day can cause massive damage to people’s health and wellbeing. Doctor Louis Hagler, who has conducted many studies on the adverse affects of noise, is quoted in the piece saying, “Now we know secondhand noise is as bad for us as secondhand smoke.”