Noise Pollution Effects on Health Final Draft

Latrell Greene

ENG 1121

Dr. Hall


Noise Pollution Effects on Health


Dear Mayor de Blasio,

Noise pollution being ever-present in big cities, like NYC, can lead to health effects that range from levels of both physical health effects, to psychological.  A multitude of studies have been conducted on the negative effects of noise pollution on the human mind and body, which goes to show how prominent the problem is. As a result, the purpose of this letter is to persuade you to consider solutions to get New York City, one of the most noise polluted cities in the nation, to achieve a more considerate and moderate noise level, especially regarding our subway system.

New York City is home to a subway system that can expose “commuters to noise as loud as a jet engine”. In an article by The Guardian, author Olga Oksman stated that in Time Square’s busy subway station, the noise levels clocked in at 80 decibels to 96 decibels when express trains pass through the station, and up to a level of 101.9 decibels at Manhattan’s Upper West Side station. A study 2011 study from the German Department of Environmental Health also stated the fact that “Noise from transportation is by far the most widespread source of noise exposure, causing most annoyance and public health concerns.” It can become very clear after analyzing this problem by taking a step back and observing just how loud the subway can get, as well as how so many people who commute to work and to school everyday by subway can be, and are affected by this.

Though the subway is arguably the loudest source of noise, it isn’t the only notable source of noise pollution. Noise pollution is also prevalent in busy streets, and there is often a lot of construction around the city, thus the noise is very spread out in the city.  Although the noise wouldn’t be exactly ear-splitting, it can still have an effect internally, on a psychological level, which could connect to problems with blood pressure and heart rate. A study from 1995 by Journal of Hypertension featured conducted research on the effects of urban noise pollution on blood pressure and heart rate in preschool children, and concluded that “the group mean blood pressure and heart rate values of preschool children from quiet areas contrasted with readings for those from noisy environments. This indicates a positive association between the level of traffic noise and a possibly increased role of sympathetic cardiovascular regulatory influence.”

The effects that noise pollution can have on people according to a 2000 study, which conducted research on the effects of noise pollution on humans, has a range including: “Noise Induced Hearing Impairment”, “Stress Related Health Effects”, “Sleep Disturbance” and “Effects on [Cognitive] Performance”.

A possible solution to the subway noise level problem could be an effort to update the subway system, and the practicality as well as the need for it is evident by a comparison between our subway system and others, like the bullet train in Japan. Even by taking steps toward it over a period of years would the outcome be significant.

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