Noise and Public Health

General information • Media coverage Scientific research studies

General information

Health effects of noise pollution (Wikipedia page)

The Effects of Noise on Health,” Harvard Health (Harvard Medical School magazine, Spring 2022)

Noise as a Public Health Hazard, American Public Health Association (Oct. 2021)

Health Effects of Noise infosheet — Providence Noise Project (2021, English / Español PDF)

Noise: Stop That Racket, It’s Hurting My Brain,” Chapter 11 from Of Sound Mind: How Our Brain Constructs a Meaningful Sonic World, by Nina Kraus (MIT Press, 2021)

A Sound Look at an Invisible Menace: Noise,” Princeton University (Jan. 2020)

Seeking a Quiet Place in a Nation of Noise,” Pew Charitable Trusts (April 2018)

Noise and Health — An international print and online journal devoted to research on all aspects of noise and its effects on human health.

World Health Organization “Environment and Health” portal on noise

Noise: A Health Problem, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (August 1978)

Information on Levels of Environmental Noise Requisite to Protect Public Health and Welfare with an Adequate Margin of Safety,” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (March 1974)


Media coverage

U.S. media — national • regional

In Good Health: How chronic noise exposure affects the human body,” 1A program, WAMU-88.5 FM, Washington, DC (July 5, 2023)

Noise Could Take Years Off Your Life — Here’s How,” New York Times (June 9, 2023)

The Loudest Cities in America,” RetirementLiving.com (2023)

What Noise Pollution Is Doing to Us,” Current Affairs (Feb. 7, 2023)

The Power of Sound,” CNN’s Chasing Life podcast with Dr. Sanjay Gupta (Dec. 13, 2022)

Is Noise Pollution a Public Health Crisis?The Takeaway, WNYC 93.9 FM (Sept. 30, 2021)

Hearing Too Much in a Noisy World,” Wall Street Journal (Sept. 10, 2021)

Noise Pollution Could Stop Forests from Growing,” Inside Science (April 13, 2021) — This study implies that areas with higher average noise levels have fewer trees and other plants that provide shade, oxygen, and help reduce flooding, and thus have an impact on public health there.

Sounding the alarm: How noise hurts the heart,” Knowable (Feb. 2021)

Covid-19 Shutdowns Reduced Unhealthy Noise Exposure,” Forbes (October 2020)

Why Everything Is Getting Louder“, The Atlantic (Nov. 2019)

Living in a noisy area increases the risk of suffering a more serious stroke,” Science Daily (Oct. 29, 2019)

Is Noise Pollution the Next Big Public-Health Crisis?The New Yorker (May 2019)

Help fight noise pollution by identifying sound clips from urban sensors“, The Verge (March 10, 2019)

Noise: The other pollution hurting our health,” CNN (Oct. 9. 2018)

These Scientists Think Peace and Quiet Should Be a Human Right: Noise pollution is terrible for your health, but they want to find a solution,” Popular Science (March 9, 2018)

Listen Up: Noise Pollution May Hurt Your Heart,” AARP Bulletin (March 5, 2018)

City Noise Might Be Making You Sick,” Atlantic (Feb. 20, 2018)

Why car horns, planes and sirens might be bad for your heart,” Washington Post (Feb. 6, 2018)

Noise Pollution is Much Worse for You than You Think,” Insider Tech (YouTube video, January 2018)

How City Noise is Slowly Killing You,” Harper’s Bazaar (July 25, 2017)

Is Your Noisy Neighborhood Slowly Killing You?Mother Jones (Jan. / Feb. 2017)

Does environmental noise lead to depression and anxiety?” Science for Environment Policy (July 2016)

You can’t ignore all that road noise: It could shorten your life,” Los Angeles Times (Jan. 9, 2016)

Why City Noise Is a Serious Health Hazard,” CityLab (April 2015)

Loud airports linked to risk of heart disease, strokes,” CNBC (Oct. 2013)

U.S. Media — regional

New England

Green Seeker: All That Noise,” WSBE–Rhode Island PBS Weekly (March 5, 2023)

Boston is noisy. That can have long-term health effects, researcher says,” WGBH 89.7 FM (Nov. 17, 2021)

Hey Boston, Shut UUUUUUUP Already!!!!!!!Boston magazine (Nov. 9, 2021)

This is the Loudest State in America,” Best Life (Nov. 2020) — Rhode Island ranks third

New York / New Jersey

THUNDER ROAD: Car Noise Stokes Heart Attacks, Study Finds,” StreetsBlog NYC (May 3, 2022)

To Create a Quieter City, They’re Recording the Sounds of New York,” New York Times (Nov. 6, 2016)

Many Pleas for Quiet, but City Still Thunders,” New York Times (July 13, 2013)

Behind City’s Painful Din, Culprits High and Low,” New York Times (July 12, 2013)

Working or Playing Indoors, New Yorkers Face an Unabated Roar,” New York Times (July 2012)

Non-Northeast

UCHealth sees increase in teens and young adults suffering from hearing loss,” KDVR-TV Denver (March 12, 2023)

International media

The Negative Effects of Noise Pollution in Your Living Environment,” The Week, India (Dec. 26, 2022)

Noise in the USA! The Dangers of a Noisy Planet,” Quiet Mark podcast, UK (Dec. 13, 2022)

World Alzheimer’s Day 2021: Noise pollution increases risk of dementia, say expert doctors,” Mid-Day, India (Sept. 21, 2021)

How noise pollution could be giving people diabetes,” UK Independent (Oct. 29, 2018)

Sonic Doom: How noise pollution kills thousands each year“, UK Guardian (July 3, 2018)

India bans honking horns and loud music,” Irish Times (July 2005)


Scientific research studies and reports

Noise can harm your health — even if you sleep through it,” Harvard School of Public Health (Dec. 4, 2023). The link to the study itself is here.

Prevalence and global estimates of unsafe listening practices in adolescents and young adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis,” British Medical Journal Global Health (October 2022) — “Unsafe listening practices are highly prevalent worldwide and may place over 1 billion young people at risk of hearing loss. There is an urgent need to prioritize policy focused on safe listening.”

Relationships between long-term residential exposure to total environmental noise and stroke incidence,“ Noise and Health (July 2022) — “The results suggest that total environmental noise is associated with incident stroke, which is consistent with studies on transportation noise and other cardiovascular disease.”

Post-COVID-19 mobility and traffic noise-induced health effects,” International Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 50, Issue 4 (Aug. 2021) — “In recent years, it has become clear that air pollutants are not the only source of traffic-related health problems, but that traffic noise also has considerable health consequences. Traffic noise can lead to annoyance and sleep disturbance, but more importantly also to serious diseases of the cardiovascular system.”

Firework activity and environmental sound levels: community impacts and solutions,” Cities & Health (June 2021) — “Comparing our findings to existing epidemiological studies suggests that incessant firework activity puts residents at risk for negative cardiovascular and mental health outcomes.”

Effects of Noise Pollution on Human Health,” Journal of Environmental Sciences, Vol. 3 Issue 1 (April 2, 2021)

Long-term noise pollution affects seedling recruitment and community composition, with negative effects persisting after removal,” Proceedings of the Royal Society (April 2021) — This study implies that areas with higher average noise levels have fewer trees and other plants that provide shade, oxygen, and help reduce flooding, and thus have an impact on public health there.

Transportation noise pollution and cardiovascular disease,” Nature Reviews Cardiology (March 2021)

Long-term community noise exposure in relation to dementia, cognition, and cognitive decline in older adults,” Alzheimers & Dementia (March 2021)

Low-Frequency Noise and Its Main Effects on Human Health,” Applied Sciences (July 2020) — “Low-frequency noise is a powerful stressor … Since 2000, the World Health Organization has recognized low-frequency noise as an environmental problem. In addition, the health impacts of low-frequency components on noise are estimated to be more severe” than higher-frequency sounds.

Adverse Cardiovascular Effects of Traffic Noise with a Focus on Nighttime Noise and the New WHO Noise Guidelines,” Annual Review of Public Health, Vol. 41:309-328 (April 2020) — Traffic noise has been classified as the second-worst environmental stressor affecting human health, exceeded only by air pollution. According to the World Health Organization, traffic-related noise accounts for more than 1 million healthy years of life lost annually in the European Region. New research has found that traffic noise may also increase risk for other major diseases, including stroke and diabetes.

Ambient Noise is ‘the New Secondhand Smoke’,” Acoustics Today, Vol. 15 Issue 3 (Fall 2019)

Effects of chronic noise exposure on the microbiome-gut-brain axis in senescence-accelerated prone mice: implications for Alzheimer’s disease,” Journal of Neuroinflammation (June 2018)

Environmental Noise and the Cardiovascular System,” Journal of the American College of Cardiology (Feb. 2018)

How Loud Is Too Loud?” Toronto Public Health department (April 2017)

Effects of environmental noise exposure on DNA methylation in the brain and metabolic health,” Environmental Research, Vol. 153 (Feb. 2017) — ”Environmental noise exposures can induce changes in DNA methylation in the brain, which may be associated with adverse effects on metabolic health through modulation of response to stress-related hormones.”

Environmental stressors and cardio-metabolic disease: Part I — epidemiologic evidence supporting a role for noise and air pollution and effects of mitigation strategies,“ European Heart Journal, Vol. 38, Issue 8 (Feb. 2017)

What Is a Safe Noise Level for the Public?American Journal of Public Health (Jan. 2017)

Reduce Noise: Improve the Nation’s Health,” Nursing Outlook 65 (2017)

Cardiovascular and stress responses to short-term noise exposures — A panel study in healthy males,” Environmental Research (Oct. 2016)

Noise Annoyance Is Associated with Depression and Anxiety in the General Population,” PLOS One journal (May 19, 2016)

Road Traffic and Railway Noise Exposures and Adiposity in Adults: A Cross-Sectional Analysis of the Danish Diet, Cancer, and Health Cohort,” Environmental Health Perspectives (March 2016)

Understanding Noise Exposure Limits: Occupational vs. General Environmental Noise,” NIOSH Science Blog, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (February 2016)

International Commission on Biological Effects of Noise (ICBEN) review of research on the biological effects of noise 2011–2014, NIH National Library of Medicine (March-April 2015)

Auditory and non-auditory effects of noise on health,” The Lancet. 383: 1325-1332. (April 2014) — Evidence of the non-auditory effects of environmental noise exposure on public health is growing. Observational and experimental studies have shown that noise exposure disturbs sleep, increases the occurrence of hypertension and cardiovascular disease, and impairs cognitive performance in schoolchildren. This review stresses the importance of adequate noise prevention and mitigation strategies for public health.

Environmental Noise Pollution in the United States: Developing an Effective Public Health Response,“ Environmental Health Perspectives (Feb. 2014) — Describes some of the most serious health effects associated with noise, summarizes exposures from several highly prevalent noise sources, and lays out mechanisms and strategies to reduce noise by incorporating scientific insight and technological innovations into existing public health infrastructure.

Environmental Noise Pollution Control policy statement, American Public Health Association (Nov. 2013)

Effects of environmental noise on sleep,” Manchester Metropolitan University, UK (Nov. 2012) — Epidemiological studies support existing evidence that night-time noise is likely associated with cardiovascular disease and stroke in the elderly, and collectively suggest that nocturnal noise exposure may be more relevant to the genesis of cardiovascular disease than daytime noise exposure.

Is There Addiction to Loud Music? Findings in a group of non-professional pop / rock musicians,” Audiology Research (Jan. 2012) — Study indicating that those who listen to over-amplified music exhibit traits associated with addictive behavior.

Burden of Disease from Environmental Noise: Quantification of healthy life-years lost in Europe,” World Health Organization (2011)

Noise and Quality of Life,” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (Oct. 19, 2010)

Exploring the Relationship between Noise Sensitivity, Annoyance, and Health-Related Quality of Life in a Sample of Adults Exposed to Environmental Noise,” International Journal of Environmental Research and Pubic Health (Oct. 11, 2010)

Real noise from the urban environment: How ambient community noise affects health and what can be done about it,” American Journal of Preventative Medicine (Aug. 2009) — “Reducing noise at the source will likely require new road standards and lower allowable engine-noise levels. Noise-abatement programs have an environmental justice dimension and need to target the at-risk population.”

Noise Pollution: A Modern Plague,” Southern Medical Journal, Volume 100, Number 3 (March 2007)

Decibel Hell: The Effects of Living in a Noisy World,” Environmental Health Perspectives (Jan. 2005)

Health effects caused by noise: evidence in the literature from the past 25 years,” Noise and Health (Jan.-March 2004)

Noise Pollution: Non-auditory effects on health,” British Medical Bulletin, Vol. 68, Issue 1, (Dec. 2003)

Noise Exposure and Public Health,” Environmental Health Perspectives (March 2000)

Differential auditory processing continues during sleep,“ Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology (Vol. 79, Issue 4, Oct. 1991) — This study demonstrates that people’s brains continue to process noise, even while they are sleeping.

The Effects of Noise on Man, Karl D. Kryter (Stanford Research Institute, 1970)