Noise pollution, also known as environmental noise or sound pollution, is the propagation of noise with ranging impacts on the activity of human or animal life, most of them harmful to a degree. The source of outdoor noise worldwide is mainly caused by machines, transport, and propagation systems.[1][2] Poor urban planning may give rise to noise disintegration or pollution, side-by-side industrial and residential buildings can result in noise pollution in the residential areas. Some of the main sources of noise in residential areas include loud music, transportation (traffic, rail, airplanes, etc.), lawn care maintenance, construction, electrical generators, explosions, and people.

Documented problems associated with noise in urban environments go back as far as ancient Rome.[3] Today, the average noise level of 98 decibels (dB) exceeds the WHO value of 50 dB allowed for residential areas.[4] Research suggests that noise pollution is the highest in low-income and racial minority neighborhoods,[5] and noise pollution associated with household electricity generators is an emerging environmental degradation in many developing nations.

High noise levels can contribute to cardiovascular effects in humans and an increased incidence of coronary artery disease.[6][7] In animals, noise can increase the risk of death by altering predator or prey detection and avoidance, interfere with reproduction and navigation, and contribute to permanent hearing loss.[8] A substantial amount of the noise that humans produce occurs in the ocean. Up until recently, most research on noise impacts has been focused on marine mammals, and to a lesser degree, fish.[9][10] In the past few years, scientists have shifted to conducting studies on invertebrates and their responses to anthropogenic sounds in the marine environment. This research is essential, especially considering that invertebrates make up 75% of marine species, and thus compose a large percentage of ocean food webs.[10] Of the studies that have been conducted, a sizable variety in families of invertebrates have been represented in the research. A variation in the complexity of their sensory systems exists, which allows scientists to study a range of characteristics and develop a better understanding of anthropogenic noise impacts on living organisms.

While the elderly may have cardiac problems due to noise, according to the World Health Organization, children are especially vulnerable to noise, and the effects that noise has on children may be permanent.[11] Noise poses a serious threat to a child's physical and psychological health, and may negatively interfere with a child's learning and behavior.[12]

Up until the 1970s governments tended to view noise as a "nuisance" rather than an environmental problem.

Many conflicts over noise pollution are handled by negotiation between the emitter and

Noise from roadways and other urban factors can be mitigated by urban planning and better design of roads. Roadway noise can be reduced by the use of noise barriers, limitation of vehicle speeds, alteration of roadway surface texture, limitation of heavy vehicles, use of traffic controls that smooth vehicle flow to reduce braking and acceleration, and tire design. An important factor in applying these strategies is a computer model for roadway noise, that is capable of addressing local topography, meteorology, traffic operations, and hypothetical mitigation. Costs of building-in mitigation can be modest, provided these solutions are sought in the planning stage of a roadway project.

Aircraft noise can be reduced by using quieter jet engines. Altering flight paths and time of day runway has benefited residents near airports.

Up until the 1970s governments tended to view noise as a "nuisance" rather than an environmental problem.

Many conflicts over noise pollution are handled by negotiation between the emitter and the receiver. Escalation procedures vary by country, and may include action in conjunction with local authorities, in particular the police.


Noise pollution is a major problem in India.[53] The government of India has rules and regulations against firecrackers and loudspeakers, but enforcement is extremely lax.[54] Awaaz Foundation is a non-governmental organization in India working to control noise pollution from various sources through advocacy, public interest litigation, awareness, and educational campaigns since 2003.[55] Despite increased enforcement and stringency of laws now being practiced in urban areas, rural areas are still affected. The Supreme Court of India had banned playing of music on loudspeakers after 10pm. In 2015, The National Green Tribunal directed authorities in Delhi to ensure strict adherence to guidelines on noise pollution, saying noise is more than just a nuisance as it can produce serious psychological stress. However, implementation of the law continues to remain poor.[56]

SwedenHow noise emissions should be reduced, without the industry being hit too hard, is a major problem in environmental care in Sweden today. The Swedish Work Environment Authority has set an input value of 80 dB for maximum sound exposure for eight hours. In workplaces where there is a need to be able to converse comfortably the background noise level should not exceed 40 dB.[57] The government of Sweden has taken soundproofing and acoustic absorbing actions, such as noise barriers and active noise control.

United Kingdom

The Noise Control Act of 1972 established a U.S. national policy to promote an environment for all Americans free from noise that jeopardizes their health and welfare. In the past, Environmental Protection Agency coordinated all federal noise control activities through its Office of Noise Abatement and Control. The EPA phased out the office's funding in 1982 as part of a shift in federal noise control policy to transfer the primary responsibility of regulating noise to state and local governments. However, the Noise Control Act of 1972 and the Quiet Communities Act of 1978 were never rescinded by Congress and remain in effect today, although essentially unfunded.[59]

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulates aircraft noise by specifying the maximum noise level that individual civil aircraft can emit thro

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulates aircraft noise by specifying the maximum noise level that individual civil aircraft can emit through requiring aircraft to meet certain noise certification standards. These standards designate changes in maximum noise level requirements by "stage" designation. The U.S. noise standards are defined in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 14 Part 36 – Noise Standards: Aircraft Type and Airworthiness Certification (14 CFR Part 36).[60] The FAA also pursues a program of aircraft noise control in cooperation with the aviation community.[61] The FAA has set up a process to report for anyone who may be impacted by Aircraft noise.[62]

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) developed noise regulations to control highway noise as required by the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1970. The regulations requires promulgation of traffic noise-level criteria for various land use activities, and describe procedures for the abatement of highway traffic noise and construction noise.[63]

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) noise standards as described in 24 CFR part 51, Subpart B provides minimum national standards applicable to HUD programs to protect citizen against excessive noise in their communities and places of residence. For instance, all sites whose environmental or community noise exposure exceeds the day night average sound level (DNL) of 65 (dB) are considered noise-impacted areas, it defines "Normally Unacceptable" noise zones where community noise levels are between 65–75 dB, for such locations, noise abatement and noise attenuation features must be implemented. Locations where the DNL is above 75 dB are considered "Unacceptable" and require approval by the Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development.[64]

The Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics has created a to provide access to comprehensive aircraft and road noise data on national and county-level.[65] The map aims to assist city planners, elected officials, scholars, and residents to gain access to up-to-date aviation and Interstate highway noise information.[66]

States and local governments typically have very specific statutes on building codes, urban planning, and roadway development. Noise laws and ordinances vary widely among municipalities and indeed do not even exist in some cities. An ordinance may contain a general prohibition against making noise that is a nuisance, or it may set out specific guidelines for the level of noise allowable at certain times of the day and for certain activities.[67]

New York City instituted the first comprehensive noise code in 1985. The Portland Noise Code includes potential fines of up to $5000 per infraction and is the basis for other major U.S. and Canadian city noise ordinances.[68]