The hidden dangers of noise: 5 key health issues to be aware of

According to the European Environment Agency (EEA), around 20% of the EU population (over 100 million people) is exposed to noise levels that are harmful to their health. In many cities, this percentage can reach 50% of the urban population. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that millions of Americans live in areas where environmental noise levels can negatively impact their health. A significant portion of this noise exposure occurs within residential settings.

Noise pollution in the workplace is a topic that is on the agenda for most companies. But there are also noise issues inside the home that can significantly impact health and well-being, leading to a range of issues and discomfort. Let’s look at 5 key health problems that can arise from excessive indoor noise.

1. Stress and anxiety

Persistent noise can activate the body’s stress response, leading to increased levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. Increased levels of cortisol can lead to anxiety, irritability, and tension, making it difficult to relax at home.

2. Sleep disturbances

Noise can interfere with the ability to fall asleep and stay asleep, leading to poor sleep quality and insomnia. Consequences of sleep disturbances include daytime fatigue, difficulty concentrating, mood swings, and a weakened immune system. Ensuring proper sleep quality involves keeping background noise levels in your bedroom between 30-35 decibels. Use our free Sorama App to easily measure the dB in your home.

3. Cardiovascular issues

Chronic noise exposure has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. Continuous noise can cause a persistent elevation in blood pressure and heart rate, contributing to long-term heart health issues.

4. Hearing loss

Exposure to loud noise, even intermittently, can cause gradual hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears). The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) indicates that about 25% of American adults report having hearing problems, and environmental noise is a significant contributing factor. Noise inside homes, especially in urban areas, plays a role in this issue.

5. Neurocognitive disorders

Noise pollution can negatively affect cognitive functions, particularly in children and the elderly. Issues include reduced memory, impaired attention span, and difficulty in learning and problem-solving.

Reducing noise pollution

By addressing and mitigating indoor noise pollution, individuals can improve their overall health and well-being, ensuring a more peaceful and comfortable living environment. Some methods that can be used to reduce noise or its impact on your health are:

  • Soundproofing materials: Use soundproofing materials for walls, ceilings, and floors to reduce noise transmission.
  • White noise machines: These can mask disruptive noises and promote a quieter environment.
  • Regular maintenance: Keep appliances and HVAC systems in good condition to minimize noise.
  • Quiet zones: Designate certain areas of your home as quiet zones where noise is minimized.
  • Earplugs and noise-canceling headphones: These can provide immediate relief from noise when necessary.


Government organizations

There are also other organizations that play a role in reducing noise pollution, even without ever setting a step over your threshold, like government bodies. Local, national, or regional governments set rules and regulations about noise. How loud can products be? Until what time can your neighbors have a party? How is traffic noise dealt with? In New York for instance, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) works around the clock to protect and improve the quality of life in the city that never sleeps.

Product development

Product manufacturers also have a role in reducing noise. We can all name a few products we use in our home that make quite a bit of noise. Most common are the washer or dryer, the vacuum cleaner and HVAC units. Incorporating acoustics into product design processes greatly improves acoustic specifications and user experience of products. As consumer expectations and regulatory demands evolve, emphasis on noise reduction will continue to grow, making it a critical consideration in designing and developing new products.

The impact of noise pollution inside homes is significant and wide-ranging, affecting stress levels, sleep quality, cardiovascular health, hearing, and cognitive function. Addressing these issues is crucial for improving overall health and well-being. This blog is part of our mission to make the world sound right and create awareness of the effects of and solutions for noise pollution.