Senior Citizen's Guide to Pittsburgh 2017 Summer/Fall Edition - page 20

heart rate, and brain waves. Our response to sound
depends on its characteristics — intensity, frequency,
predictability, complexity, and length of exposure, as
well as our interpretation of the meaning of the noise.
Noise is different than sound. Noise pollution, as defined
by the United States Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA), is “unwanted or disturbing sound” and can
diminish quality of life.
According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational
Health and Safety (CCOHS), the nonauditory effects of
noise are:
• Increased stress
• Annoyance
• Sleeping problems
• Mental health concerns
• Cardiovascular function (hypertension, changes to
blood pressure and/or heart rate)
Our ability to process sound is actually pretty low,
which makes it hard to hear in background noise or
while two people are talking at once. For example,
sound consultant Julian Treasure claims that open-plan
office spaces can reduce productivity by 66 percent.
In a study published in the British Journal of
Psychology in 1998, researchers found that employers
were incredibly distracted when they could hear others
talking around them, and they were less able to perform
their duties. Noise in the office is also associated with
increased stress hormone levels and a lower willingness
to participate with others.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC) reports occupational hearing loss is one of the
most common work-related illnesses in the United
States. Twenty-two million workers are exposed to
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