Noise Action Week is coordinated every year by Environmental Protection UK to raise awareness of the cost of noise to the health and well-being of communities and individuals. Noise complaints are used as an indicator of public well-being in the Public Health Profile report of the Department of Health. Information on this indicator is now outdated and reflects the difficulty in collecting complaint numbers. It’s reasonable to assume that the neighbourhood noise issues will continue to increase as we adopt greater housing density and less “good neighbour” awareness.
Why is noise bad?
The long term consequences of noise on health have been studied and summarised by the World Health Organisation in their Guidelines for the European Region. According to the Chief Medical Officer, noise is like junk food. While we may enjoy some loud sounds, repeated exposure can harm your health. Noise-induced health impacts arise from sleep disturbance and annoyance and in this respect all of us respond differently to particular sounds.
A sound becomes a noise when it enters our consciousness and we determine it to be unwanted and a source of emotional stress.
What noise is annoying?
We all hear noise from neighbours and can all act to reduce noise at home. Sound is part of everyday life and keeps our neighbourhoods vibrant. However, too much noise in the wrong place at the wrong time can disturb, annoy and upset neighbours. Government research published in January 2015 found 48% of us feel our home life is spoilt by noise. This research also found a fifth of people are kept awake by noise at night and many had complained about the noise. Noise disturbance often happens because people simply forget others can hear them and many problems can be resolved by talking to neighbours and being aware of their lifestyles.
Common noises that disturb, annoy or wake people up are:
- Loud music
- Loud TV
- Voices indoors or in the street
- Slamming doors, walking on hard flooring
- Noise from licensed premises
- Noisy pets e.g. barking dogs
- Household appliances e.g washing machines, dishwashers, vacuum cleaners, fridges/freezers
- DIY/Building work
Reduce noise annoyance
The level of annoyance will be affected by both the expectation for that noise and the conflict it presents with any desired action. Personal annoyance from noise can be simply reduced when there is an understanding and acceptance of the reasons for it. You can significantly help to avoid any noise issues developing with your neighbours by simply making an effort to consider their needs and by giving them some notice of your next building project, party or new puppy.