Noise monitoring – Are you listening carefully?

Noise monitoring helps you to understand what’s happening in your environment by assessing the noise levels around you. Noise monitoring is as equally effective in industrial areas as it is in residential locations, and it is the resultant findings that can guide and inform strategies around noise moving forward.

Why monitor noise?

It might seem like a moot point as monitoring across the board makes sense. However, it is important to understand the real impact that noise can have on the world around us. Noise monitoring can help to identify issues that surround noise pollution. While not all noise is problematic, certain types, frequencies and levels can be very damaging to both the natural world and everyday life.

Noise pollution comes from both high and low frequency sources connected with industry, commerce and normal human activity, such as driving or playing music. When noise tips over into noise pollution is when it begins to harmfully impact both human and natural life.

Negative impact of noise

The impact of noise pollution can be felt be millions of people every day, ranging from obvious issues to health outcomes that may be harder to connect but that have been linked. Often, noise-related hearing loss comes as a consequence of noises pollution, but it can also cause high blood pressure, heart disease, sleep disturbances, and stress, with issues in levels of attention and reduced reading skills linked to children living near busy airports.

Wildlife is also impacted, with National Geographic noting that the dorsal valves of caterpillars – equivalent to a heart – beat faster when hearing loud noise. Noise pollution underwater can confuse navigation of whales and dolphins.


What is loud?

That’s a good question as everyone’s levels of hearing can be different, but a good guide is:

  • Rustling leaves – 20 to 30 decibels
  • Thunderclap – 120 decibels
  • Siren wail – 120 to 140 decibels

Noises that reach 85 decibels or over can be harmful to the human ear. You’ll probably experience this on the underground or during a rock concert.

Noise monitoring in practice

As well as making your employees’ work environment a pleasant environment to work in, it also has to be safe. Noise monitoring on a construction site may be obvious but assessing conditions that may be more borderline is just as important. As well as understanding what levels of noise your employees are dealing with, it will let you address any issues and put measures in place to counteract damaging noise levels.

How is noise measured?

While loud noises are easily identified, low level and slight noises that might be troublesome in their frequency or in their pitch should also be checked. Some people may be deeply irritated by a ‘hidden’ noise where others may not hear it. As well as assessing the source of noise and any timetable that might be evident, the type of noise will also be measured. Is it continuous and at a constant level or do levels vary? Are noises intermittent or do they pulsate and is the pattern of noise an issue?

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