Noise pollution

The cost of noise pollution

Jan Simonsen, Senior Marketing Campaign Consultant, Group Marketing and Branding
Jan Simonsen
09 May 2019

It’s not only deadly, but expensive too.

denk breder, akoestiek, cavity campaign, acoustics, architect,  construction worker

Did you know? Noise pollution costs the British economy around £20 billion annually in economic, social, and health costs1.

Noise pollution may be an invisible threat, but it is actually one of the largest environmental causes of ill health, second only to air pollution2

Simply perk up your ears and you’ll realise that noise pollution is everywhere — whether it’s the bustling sounds of the people around you, or the clamour of busy traffic on the streets — and it’s difficult to avoid.

Noise pollution is so harmful that, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately one million lives are lost every year as result of exposure to environmental noise3.

Social and healthcare costs of noise pollution

A variety of health problems and issues can be associated with noise pollution. As such, a significant negative impact to the economy can be observed. 

For example, heart disease derived from exposure to daytime traffic noise costs approximately £1,183 million per annum. Meanwhile, tinnitus from traffic/leisure noise and hearing loss from loud music cost £52 million per annum and £38 million per annum respectively4.

At the same time, daytime and night-time noise can result in slower learning in children, which costs £252 million per year4.

There are also further costs associated with loss of amenity. This refers to the conscious displeasure of those exposed to the noise. Such situations include noise pollution affecting house price value, sleep disturbance, or the cost of measures to reduce exposure to noise pollution. Loss of amenity from noise pollution is valued at approximately £2-3 billion a year1.

The truth is, sleep disturbance is one of the most common consequences of noise pollution. When your sleep is interrupted, your memory and creativity become impaired, along with your sense of judgment and psychomotor skills. 

Research has shown that people living near airports or roads with busy traffic report a higher frequency of headaches, take more sleeping pills and sedatives, and are more prone to minor accidents due to their dazed and weary state5.

As a result, noise pollution has a negative impact on productivity via a combination of distraction, fatigue, and interruption of communication. This loss of productivity amounts to approximately £2 billion a year1.

If you want to know more about the the dangers of noise pollution and where it comes from, you can read this article.

Noise pollution costs
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annually in the UK alone

Noise complaints are costly too

Given the staggering amount of displeasure that noise pollution brings us, it’s no wonder that noise complaints also contribute significantly to the cost of noise pollution in both time and money. 

A 2012 UK government report examined the cost of making a complaint, both in terms of time and in terms of monetary cost, and discovered that the average incident costs a complainant 4-8 hours and the local authority 4-7 hours. However, these numbers can go up to 28-57 hours for the complainant and 67-135 hours for the local authority in the most demanding scenarios (which can comprise of 10 complaints, diary sheets, visit, notice, 10 complaints, visit, prosecution, witness statement and court appearance).

Moreover, the average incident costs the local authority £180-£360 to deal with, while the least demanding scenario (complaint and no further action) costs £50-£100, and the most demanding scenario costs £3,400-£6,8106.

At the end of the day, noise pollution has an economic cost. We need to recognise it as a more serious problem, and implement better practices and processes for mitigating its negative impacts. One such method is to make use of stone wool products, which have noise reduction and sound absorption qualities that can isolate noise. 

By reducing the negative effects of noise pollution, we can put less burden on the environment, our bodies, and our bank accounts.

 Check out our other stories on how noise affects our lives!

Source(s):

1. European Environment Agency, 2014.

2. Coghlan, Andy, 2011, “Noise kills, and blights lives in Europe”

3. World Health Organization, 2011, “Burden of Disease from Environmental Noise: Quantification of Healthy Life Years Lost in Europe”

4. Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs UK, 2008, “An Economic Valuation of Noise Pollution –developing a tool for policy appraisal”.

5. Australian Academy of Science, 2017.

6. Bureau Veritas, 2012, “Estimating the Cost of Complaints about Noise Nuisance”