Noise can interfere with communication,
cause sleep disturbance and cardiovascular effects, affect mental
health, reduce performance, causes annoyance responses, and can
alter social behaviour. At sufficiently high levels, it can impair
hearing. In addition, it seems to affect children's ability to
Children’s health and the environment).
It is hard to estimate the exact impact of noise on health because
it is often accompanied by other environmental hazards such as
air pollution or exposure to chemicals. Research under Key Action
4 will shed light on noise-related health effects and provide
scientific evidence for establishing noise limits in the EU.
Is it the noise...
...or is it something more?
In Europe, an estimated
- 113 million people are exposed to noise
levels high enough to have serious health
- 10 million people are exposed to ambient
noise levels that can lead to hearing loss;
- 30 million people are exposed to occupational
noise that endangers their hearing.
The Nopher project(1) comprises workshops and
working parties in which European scientific,
technical, and medical experts are tackling
numerous problems related to research on noise
pollution and its adverse effects on health.
It aims to determine the health effects of chronic
exposure to transport noise, to develop strategies
for pharmacological protection against noise
trauma, to determine effects of combined chemicals
and noise exposure on hearing and balance (see
Noisechem, below), to devise ways to identify
those individuals vulnerable to noise damage,
and to develop a 'noise and health' information
The fact that loud noise causes hearing impairment
is well documented. So, when a person exposed
to a noisy working environment develops hearing
problems, the effect is readily blamed on the
noise level. Yet exposure to chemical solvents
can also affect hearing, and such effects are
probably underestimated. It is notably unclear
whether loud noise and exposure to solvents
can potentiate each other's effects.
The Noisechem project(2) aims to clarify this
- developing tests for evaluating noise- and
solvent-caused damage to the hearing and balance
- determining dose/effect relationships among
2 000 workers exposed to different solvent-noise
- using tests on humans and animal models
to see where and how solvents and noise exert
their effects; and
- developing hearing conservation schemes
taking both factors into account.
Noise Pollution Health Effects Reduction: QLK4-1999-01287.
(2) Noise and Industrial
Chemicals: Interaction Effects on Hearing and
Contact for both projects:
Prof. Deepak Prasher
Institute of Laryngology and Otology
University College London (UK)