Turn down the volume

People are healthier and happier when noise pollution is controlled

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Not all noise is bad, as any lover of loud music would agree. But unwanted noise, otherwise known as noise pollution, poses a real threat to human health and wellbeing. 

Noise can affect your sleep, raise your heart rate and blood pressure, and even have an impact on motor skills and cognitive functions . According to the European Environment Agency (EEA), 10,000 deaths in Europe  every year can be attributed to noise. And the annual cost of noise pollution in Europe has been estimated at USD 52 billion dollars .  

In response, the EEA and World Health Organization have set targets for the maximum noise levels that Europeans should be exposed to. They recommend night-time levels of no more than 40dB (one-third of EU citizens currently experience 55dB), and 65dB during the day.  Some municipalities are picking up on this, putting restrictions on noise levels, for example at late-night events.

It is recognised that noise exposure can cause annoyance and sleep disturbance both of which impact quality of life.

Source: Noise Policy Statement for England (NPSE)

The healthy design

The fabric of buildings has a strong influence on noise levels – and this is becoming part of a growing conversation among architects, building owners and health professionals about “healthy design”. Many workers find that open-plan offices, for example, can be disruptive to concentration, partly because of the exposure to noise that they can create. When a space is intended for communication or cognitive tasks, its acoustic performance is one of the most important design considerations. 

Materials are an important part of the solution. If surfaces allow sound waves to bounce off back into a space, they can create a noisy interior environment. Sound-absorbent materials, on the other hand, can manage the ambient sound levels, while sound insulation can prevent noise travelling from one space to another. 

By eliminating noise pollution, well-designed buildings can make an important contribution to improving quality of life for millions.

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Office of Bestseller, Aarhus

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Faculty of Philology at the University of Lodz, Poland

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Office of Bestseller, Aarhus

Cost
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Is the annual cost of noise pollution in Europe

Deaths
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deaths attributed to noise in Europe annually

Noise level
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recommended daytime noise level

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