Long Term Health Effects of Noise Exposure

Guideline values for community noise in specific environments.   This table summarizes the outcome of a World Health Organization expert task force meeting in London in March 1999, includes guideline values for community noise (listing also critical health effects ranging from annoyance to hearing impairment).

Specific environment Critical health effects LAeq [dB(A)] Time base
[hours]
LAmax fast
[dB]
Outdoor living area Serious annoyance, daytime and evening 55 16 -
Outdoor living area Moderate annoyance, daytime and evening 50 16 -
Inside bedrooms Sleep disturbance, night-time 30 8 45
Dwelling, indoors Speech intelligibility & moderate annoyance, daytime & evening 35 16  
Outside bedrooms Sleep disturbance, window open (outdoor values) 45 8 60
School class rooms & pre-schools, indoors Speech intelligibility, disturbance of information extraction, message communication 35 during class -
Pre-school bedrooms, indoor Sleep disturbance 30 sleeping-time 45
School, playground outdoor Annoyance (external source) 55 during play -
Hospital, ward rooms, indoors Sleep disturbance, night-time 30 8 40
Hospital, ward rooms, indoors Sleep disturbance, daytime and evenings 30 16 -
Hospitals, treatment rooms, indoors Interference with rest and recovery #1    
Industrial, commercial shopping and traffic areas, indoors and outdoors Hearing impairment 70 24 110
Ceremonies, festivals and entertainment events Hearing impairment (patrons: <5 times/year) 100 4 110
Public addresses, indoors and outdoors Hearing impairment 85 1 110
Music and other sounds through headphones / earphones Hearing impairment (free-field value) 85 #4 1 110
Impulse sounds from toys, fireworks and firearms Hearing impairment (adults) - - 140 #2
Impulse sounds from toys, fireworks and firearms Hearing impairment (children) - - 120 #2
Outdoors in parkland and conservations areas Disruption of tranquility #3    

#1: As low as possible.
#2: Peak sound pressure (not LAF, max) measured 100 mm from the ear.
#3: Existing quiet outdoor areas should be preserved and the ratio of intruding noise to natural background sound should be kept low.
#4: Under headphones, adapted to free-field values.

 


 

Long term health effects of noise exposure.   Source: Noise and Health, Health Council of the Netherlands, September 1994

  Observation threshold (levels above which effect starts)
1. Sufficient evidence
Effect situation noise metric level in dB(A) inside/outside
- hearing damage work LAeq,8hr 75 inside
  sport LAeq,24hr 70 inside
- hypertension work LAeq,8hr <85 inside
  home LAeq,6-22hr 70 outside
- ischemic heart diseases home LAeq,6-22hr 70 outside
- annoyance home Ldn 42 outside
- awakening sleep SEL 55 inside
- sleep stages sleep SEL 35 inside
- self reported sleep quality sleep LAeq, night 40 outside
-school performance school LAeq, day 70 outside
2. Limited evidence
- birth-weight - - - -
- immune system - - - -
- psychiatric admission - - - -
3. Lack of evidence
- congenital effects - - - -
- immune system sleep - - -

 

 

 

Note: this paper was first published in 2009.
Last Updated on 19 May 2009