What is it about?

City noise from planes, traffic, transit, construction, and other public sources is loud enough to hurt hearing health even for people with no other noise exposure. This is causing permanent preventable hearing damage starting in children and teens around the world. Noise control that lowers city noise to meet World Health Organization Environmental Noise Guidelines (2018) will prevent hearing health damage. If city noise was even low enough to prevent mental and physical public health risk, it would also prevent speech interference and make communication easier for everyone with difficulty understanding speech in background noise, e.g. tinnitus, hearing loss from any cause.

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Why is it important?

City noise damage is completely preventable with noise abatement and control. If noise was low enough to meet World Health Organization recommended limits, it would prevent millions of cases of noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus. This would cut related healthcare costs. Lowering city noise levels to recommended speech interference limits would also prevent social isolation of everyone with communication problems in background noise.


I believe health and communication are both human rights. Everyone should have a healthy quiet environment no matter where they live. I hope this article inspires people to support public policy and actions that prevent noise pollution in their cities and communities. WHO Environmental Noise Guidelines (2018, pages 105-111) recommends how experts at local, regional, and national levels should implement environmental noise control and prevention. Their target audience includes, “civil society, patients and other advocacy groups to raise awareness and encourage actions to protect the population, including vulnerable groups, from exposure to noise (p. 108).”

Jan Mayes

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Urban noise levels are high enough to damage auditory sensorineural health, Cities & Health, February 2019, Taylor & Francis, DOI: 10.1080/23748834.2019.1577204.
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