Noise is part of everyday life, but loud noise can damage your health. Noise is all around us, from disruptive sounds like road traffic, to calming sounds like a bird song. Environmental noise is described as unwanted or harmful outdoor sound created by human actions. This includes road, rail, air traffic and industry. Noise pollution is increasingly becoming a local environmental problem with increased complaints from the general public.

Harmful sounds - sounds that are too loud or loud sounds over a long time - can damage your hearing and have other impacts on your well-being.

Noise can be annoying, especially if it is at night keeping you awake. The sources of nuisance noise include noisy neighbours, construction and industrial noise. Identifying what constitutes an annoying noise can, however, be open to debate.


How is noise measured?

Decibels (dB) are used to measure noise. The instrument used is called a noise meter. It responds in a similar way to the human ear, to assess sound pressure levels.

There are a range of sound levels, some of which are low and some of which are very loud. Typical sound levels measured are as follows:


  • 150 dB = rock music peak
  • 140 dB = firealarms, jet engine
  • 130 dB = jackhammer
  • 120 dB = jet plane take-off, loud car stereo

Extremely Loud

  • 110 dB = model airplane
  • 106 dB = bass drum roll
  • 100 dB = chain saw, pneumatic drill
  • 90   dB =  lawnmower, large trucks

Very Loud

  • 80 dB = alarm clock, busy street
  • 70 dB = busy traffic, vacuum cleaner
  • 60 dB = conversation, dishwasher


  • 50 dB = moderate rainfall
  • 40 dB = quiet room


  • 30 dB = whisper, quiet library

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