The world is getting noisier, and our health and productivity are suffering as a result.
We’re thrilled to have helped our friends at Biamp Systems create this important white paper about how noise in the modern world affects us. This document took months to produce, involving an exhaustive review of literature going back some 40 years, and its intention is to enrol as many people as possible in the message that sound must be carefully considered in the design process, whether for a building or an environment
Where does noise affect us?
The problem of noise particularly acute in built-up areas, and among the poorest social groups, who tend to live in the noisiest places. Even in towns where heavy industry is history, other noise sources have taken over: aircraft, road traffic, public address systems, alarms and the hubbub of increasingly densely packed populations have become the noise pests of the 21st century.
The din persists indoors, too: poor acoustic design in many buildings results in nuisance noise reverberating, so we must speak more loudly to make ourselves heard. Today’s urban environment is very much part of the problem.
The impact of noise pollution
The dozens of academic papers reviewed for this study show increased stress, irritability and loss of sleep amongst people exposed to even fairly modest levels of sound, mainly traffic noise. The World Health Organization estimates that noise pollution costs one million years of healthy life every year in Europe alone.
In schools and hospitals, noise has equally significant impact, leading to slower learning, longer convalescences and lower work performance or productivity outcomes. Indeed, the European Union calculates a financial cost of over £40 billion ($52 billion) a year, in terms of lost working days, healthcare costs, impaired learning and reduced productivity.
We hope this white paper is another important brick in the wall of increasing sound awareness, conscious listening and designing with sound. Well done to Biamp for sponsoring it. Please do read it and then use it wherever you can to pass the message on. Sound matters!