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Noise pollution is human-created sound that has the effect of being annoying, distracting, painful, or physically harmful.

People continuously exposed to noise experience elevated stress levels, mood swings, lost sleep, diminished productivity, hypertension, depression, and hearing loss. In children, it results in slowed learning.

World Health Organization, National Institutes of Health, United Nations and numerous scientific and medical publications recognize noise pollution and its deleterious effects.

Sound Measurement

A decibel (dB) is a measurement of sound. Decibels are measured logarithmically; perceived loudness doubles with every 10 (dB) increase.

Type of Sound Decibel (dB) Hearing Effect
Jet Takeoff 150 Permanent Hearing Loss
Boom Car 140  
Train Horn 130  
Car Alarm 120 Pain Threshold
Leaf Blower 100 Risk of Hearing Loss
Motorcycle 90  
Traffic Noise 80 Loud
Vacuum Cleaner 70 Intrusive
Classroom Activities 60 Comfortable
Conversation 50  
Whisper 30 Very Quiet
Breathing 20 Barely Audible

In sound measurement, the 'A' standard is a filter used to approximate human hearing; the 'C' standard is commonly used to measure low frequency sound that can be felt.

World Health Organization

In 1999, the World Health Organization (WHO), a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN), published a report titled, Guidelines for Community Noise that addressed noise pollution as having profound public health implications.

Noise pollution causes direct and cumulative adverse health effects by degrading residential, social, working, and learning environments. The report was intended to provide guidance to environmental health authorities to protect society from the harmful effects of urban noise pollution.

The WHO documented seven categories of adverse health effects of noise pollution on humans.

  1. Hearing Impairment
  2. Interference with Spoken Communication
  3. Sleep Disturbances
  4. Cardiovascular Disturbances
  5. Disturbances in Mental Health
  6. Impaired Task Performance
  7. Negative Social Behavior and Annoyance Reactions

Although anyone may be adversely affected by noise pollution, the report identified vulnerable groups of people, including infants, children, those with mental or physical illnesses, and the elderly.