Population density is defined as the number of people living in a specific geographical area (Rylander, 2006). The higher the population density there is, the higher human activity that geographical activity will have. This explains why densely populated areas exert more pressure on the immediate environment, which includes the natural resources and the infrastructural resources.
Some of the growing concerns associated with population density include heightened pollution, decreasing territorial space and crime as different people try to use the resources in the specific environment to cater for their respective needs.
Noise is simply defined as the unwanted sounds that people are exposed to in their immediate environment (Oomen & Zhao, 1998). With some people living in noisy areas, the effect that the noise has on them is usually detrimental to their long-term hearing capabilities. Evaluating the hazards associated with noise pollutions are determined by several measures; 1) the loudness of the noise; 2) the period of exposure; 3) type of the noise (continuous, intermittent or impulse.
The admissible noise levels in most countries are rated at 90 decibels. In most populated areas, the noise levels falls well below the 90 decibels mark. The subway noise is rated at 90 decibels, while city traffic produces 85 decibels of noise. A normal conversation between two or more people produces 60 decibels of noise, while one’s living room, with some of the media moderately adjusted to the right noise volumes is rated as having 40 decibels of noise.
Excessive noises in densely populated areas could include jet engines which can produces as high as 140 decibels of noise while travelling at 75 feet, chainsaws (110 decibels). At 120 decibels, the ear becomes irritated by the noise and one could even experience some pain (Oomen &Zhao, 1998).
There is evidence that people exhibit negative responses such as dissatisfaction, annoyance and disturbances) when subjected to noise (Job, 1996). However, it is notable that people have different tolerance levels to noise and hence react differently to the same intensity of noises.
The effects of noise on the health of people within the same geographical area depend on the noise type. According to Job (1996) impulsive noise creates more reaction from people as opposed to non-impulse noise, while intermittent noise was found to have a greater effect than loud, continuous noise.
Individuals exhibit both psychological and physiological responses to noise. However, Rylander(2006) notes that an individuals reaction to noise are influenced by a person’s susceptibility to the same. That means that people who are highly sensitive to noise are more attentive to the same, tend to discriminate different noises more, and also find specific types of noises more threatening (Veitch, 1995). As a result, they are slower in adapting to noisy environments when compared to people who are less sensitive to noise.
Some of the demonstrated health-related noise effects include hearing loss and stress induced-outcomes. According to Rylander (2006), stressed-induced outcomes are known to be more common among high density populated areas, where people tend to develop annoyance tendencies, cardiovascular diseases, sleep disturbances and immune effects. According to Thompson (1996), there appears to be an association between sleep disturbances and lowered immune responses.
Noise reduction at home or in the office can be done through two forms of controls; 1) engineering controls and 2) administrative or personal-protective controls. Engineering controls are practices and methods put in place in order to reduce the amount of noise released to the people working or living in a specific environment. Such include enclosing noisy fans, machinery or motors in order to muff the noises they produce.
Noise can also be reduced by controlling the vibration in machinery by lubricating, isolating or tightening vibrating parts. Loud machines can also be replaced with quite ones, while living areas can be fitted with sound barriers or constructed using sound-absorbing materials.
Administrative controls are most effective in the workplace, where the managers move workers away from the noise source by rearranging the working area. Further the work tasks and schedules can be rearranged in order to reduce exposure of individual workers to noise (Rylander, 2006). On a personal level, an individual can purchase hearing protective devices such as earplugs or earmuffs in order to have a shield against the excessive noise.
Territoriality refers to a geographic area, which has an identifiable owner. The owner has the right to defend his territory against invaders (Rylander, 2006). In relation to human density, Oomen & Zhao (1998) states that “territoriality insures the propagation is the human species by regulating density.” This means that territorial boundaries provide the human population with identified place to play, learn, socialize and engage in leisure activities. This then means that activities within a group are well coordinated.
Although there is no universally acceptable of the word privacy, Rylander (2006) notes that privacy can be defined as the set limits which an individual is not obliged to accept any intrusions from outside . With increased human density, and increased monitoring systems however, Privacy, though an alienable human right is diminishing fast.
This is especially so, with policies that gives governments the right to tap into telephones of the citizenry or monitor their emails for security reason. In Offices, privacy is enhanced by giving individual workers their own personal working stations, while at home, siblings are given their own beds, or bedrooms depending with the resources available to a family.
Personal space refers to the unconscious distance that people maintain when they interact. It serves three purposes as identified by Oomen & Zhao (1998): The protective function, where the personal space offers a buffer zone, which protects individuals against physical and emotional threats.
The second function is regulating the amount of sensory input that a person gets from others, while the third function serves as a communication function, whereby an individual regulates personal space depending on the level of intimacy or closeness they have with other people (Rylander ,2006).
According to Oomen & Zhao (1998), over stimulation is one of the notable consequences of too much noise, and little privacy on individuals. This result from too many people occupying the same space, too many modes of communication being used at the same time by different people and close proximity between people thus denying individuals the personal space they would want to have.
It is also notable that social density and the decreased personal space lead to insecurity and aggression. According to Oomen & Zhao (1998), this comes from the different perceptions that people occupying the same space have regarding their environment.
Job, R.F.S. (1996). The Influence of Subjective reactions to noise on health effects of the noise. Environmental International 22(1), 93-104.
Oomen, V., Knowles, M. & Zhao, I. (2008). Should Health Service Managers embrace Open Plan Work Environments? A Review. Asia pacific Journal of Health Management. 3(2), 37-44.
Rylander, R. (2006). Noise, Stress and Annoyance. Noise Notes Journal 5(4), 35-40.
Thompson, S. (1996). Non-auditory health effects of noise: updated review. Proceedings of internoise 2177-2182.
Veitch, R. D. (1995). Environmental psychology. New Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall.