Audit, Inspection and Safety

20.11.19

New evidence supports need for noise pollution policy

More than 100 different species’ survival is being threatened as a result of noise pollution, according to researchers from Queen’s University Belfast.

Amphibians, arthropods, birds, fish, mammals, molluscs and reptiles have shown that noise affects their behaviour. The animals were separated into these groups and analysed, in a study on the effects of noise on over 100 species.

The study was published in Biology Letters today (Nov 20) and is the first quantitative evidence making a case for legislative bodies to properly regulate noise pollution.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), noise is one of the most hazardous forms of pollution.

But today’s study doesn’t only cause ill effects in humans but on the biology and physiology of all seven animal groups that were tested, proving that the damaging effects of noise pollution is the norm, not the exception.

Dr Hansjoerg Kunc, from the School of Biological Sciences at Queen’s University Belfast and lead author, said:

“The study found clear evidence that noise pollution affects all of the seven groups of species and that the different groups did not differ in their response to noise.”

“This large-scale quantitative study provides significant evidence that noise pollution must be considered as a serious form of man-made environmental change and pollution, illustrating how it affects so many aquatic and terrestrial species. Noise must be considered as a global pollutant and we need to develop strategies to protect animals from noise for their livelihoods.”

The threats caused by noise pollution could implicate survival and population to a range of species according to the study.

The risks come from species losing the ability to communicate using signals, to share vital information such as choosing a mate, or warning family members of predators.

Some animals, such as bats and owls, rely on hearing their potential prey to find them, therefore noise pollution could lead to a decline in these species.

Other impacts include fish larvae being unable to find suitable reefs to live, due to noise pollution in the sea, largely from ships and bird’s migration habits being affected through avoiding polluted areas.

The noise pollution makes these signals inaudible and so this vital information will impact on their survival and ultimately, the ecosystem.

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