Preventing Noise Pollution in the Classroom
Noise pollution can have harmful effects on our health and cause problems on a physical, psychological, and social level. Therefore, we must pay close attention to the noise levels to which we are exposed in all areas and environments of our lives.
But this is especially important in the school environment, since excessive noise in the classroom can interfere with the quality of learning processes that take place there.
What is noise pollution?
Noise pollution refers to the sounds that are excessive or annoying caused by human activities. For example, traffic in general (planes, boats, cars), industry, building and construction, or leisure sites.
All these sounds produce negative effects on the health of living beings. To be more specific, they produce various problems involving hearing, physical and mental health, and cause great damage to our quality of life.
To measure noise levels and to determine if acoustic contamination exists, we use decibels (dB). This unit of measurement expresses the level of power or intensity of sound. In this sense, a report from the World Health Organization (WHO) establishes 70 dB as the upper desirable limit, and Spain, for its part, establishes 55 dB as the level of acoustic comfort.
Effects on our health
Among the consequences that noise pollution can have on our health, we can mention the following:
- Sleep disturbance and insomnia
- Low work and academic performance
- Difficulties with concentration and memorization
- Alterations in blood pressure and heart rate
- Irritability and aggressive reactions
- Problems in communication
- Problems in coordination
- Excessive muscle contraction
- Loss of attention span
In addition, when there’s regular exposure to noise that exceeds 90 dB, the most direct consequence of noise pollution can occur, which is hearing loss.
When noise contaminates the classroom space
All the effects and consequences that we’ve mentioned regarding noise pollution are even more dangerous when it comes to schools with children at an early age.
Thus, excessive noise has a negative impact on the teaching-learning processes of children, and on their development and health in general. Therefore, it’s necessary to avoid environments with high noise pollution in order to avoid affecting children’s school performance.
Specifically, it’s important to prevent it from affecting fundamental aspects for their cognitive development, such as the following:
- Communication and vocalization
Therefore, in the specific case of school classrooms, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), noise shouldn’t exceed 35 dB. However, few schools manage to maintain this level of sound intensity.
Measures against noise pollution in the classroom
In addition to implementing measures at an institutional level, teachers and students themselves can adopt different strategies and measures to protect themselves from noise pollution.
To achieve a classroom environment with an adequate noise level, the following measures are worth highlighting:
- Implementing monitors to measure the noise levels in areas more prone to noise pollution. For example, the school cafeteria, gym, or multipurpose room.
- Use materials that help absorb sound in walls, ceilings, table and chair legs, and furniture.
- Understanding that not taking turns when speaking, or speaking all at once increases noise pollution.
- Learning to identify excessive levels of noise and sounds, and enjoy the silence.
- Planning teaching-learning activities about the negative effects that noise pollution has on everyone, and about the importance of avoiding it in order to learn better.