“Noise is an underestimated threat that can cause a number of short- and long-term health problems, such as sleep disturbance, cardiovascular effects, poorer work and school performance and hearing impairment.

Noise has emerged as a leading environmental nuisance in the World Health Organisation European Region and the public complains about excessive noise more and more often.

How loud is too loud?

The WHO guidelines for community noise recommend less than 30 decibels (dB) in bedrooms during the night for a sleep of good quality and less than 35 dB in classrooms to allow good teaching and learning conditions.

How many people are affected?

According to a European Union publication:

  • about 40% of the population in EU countries is exposed to road traffic noise at levels exceeding 55 dB;
  • 20% is exposed to levels exceeding 65 dB during the daytime; and
  • more than 30% is exposed to levels exceeding 55 dB at night.”

World Health Organisation ‘Facts and Figures’

So traffic noise is a huge problem with chronic health impacts for large proportions of the population.

Great then that the BBC series Bang Goes the Theory recently recognised the importance of noise in our lives.

When it came to traffic noise, however, it all turned slightly bizarre. Rather than exploring this ‘underestimated threat’ the editorial slant was that cars are getting TOO QUIET.

If you are quick you can catch the piece about 23 minutes in on iplayer: Bang_Goes_the_Theory_Series_6_Is_Life_Too_Loud

Don’t miss the classic line, “As a cyclist, a loud car is a good car”.

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One single comment

  1. What effect does sound level have on plant growth?  I have herd that talking to your plant can help it grow, do different noises cause different reaction, and would a lack of noise stunt it growth?  Would have the noise of bees buzzing increase flowering, would the sound of birds increase seed production, and what would happen if you tried to grow a flower in the sound proof room (assuming there was enough water and light).

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