Is neighbour noise the next pandemic pain?

Is neighbour noise the next pandemic pain?

Over the past 11 months, we have been writing about how noise pollution has reduced in cities all around the world as a result of the pandemic. In fact, we noted that it has been one of the very few benefits of Covid-19: https://www.sonitussystems.com/news/reduced-pollution-one-benfit-of-covid-restrictions


But, as our cities and business districts quieten, it appears that our neighbourhoods have gotten noisier. Workplace wellbeing puts good acoustical performance at the heart of healthy workplaces, as we covered here previously: https://www.sonitussystems.com/news/the-role-of-acoustics-in-supporting-employee-wellbeing But, what happens when your home is also your workplace, as is the current situation for most people around the world?


According to a recent article in the Toronto Star titled 'Neighbourhood noises getting on your nerves?', a quarter of Canadians believe their lives are noisier now than they were prior to the outbreak of Covid-19 and the resulting restrictions. This insight comes from a new online survey of a representative national sample by Research Co. in which 27 percent of Canadians say their city or town has become noisier over the past year. Nuisance noises include the usual offenders of traffic, car alarms and dogs barking, however, one new addition to the list of usual nuisance noises is "loud people outside their home". This is likely as a result of the ban on socialising and having indoor household visits, however, even if it is understandable, it might not be tolerable for neighbours.


The article raises an interesting question and it is one that we have raised here previously: Have neighbourhoods actually become noisier since early 2020 or are people becoming more intolerant of annoying sounds?


An occupational and environmental noise researcher quoted in the Toronto Star article pointed out that "heightened stress" during the pandemic is the "gorilla in the room", which means that noises around your home that you may not have noticed in the past are likely much more aggravating when you are working and need to concentrate. He goes further to explain that "reaction to noise as a stressor is in our DNA". Also, in the workplace, there is an expectation of noise, whether it is construction activity outside the windows or chatty colleagues lingering in hallways outside your office, whereas our homes are rightfully a place of personal sanctuary - any interference is heightened.


Some surprising aspects of that survey tap into larger potential trends, for example, older people are not necessarily more bothered by noise than younger people surveyed. Also, rural areas are not proving as quiet as some cities areas during this time.


It is important to note that a growing intolerance for unwanted noise is not a bad thing. Nuisance noise has well-documented negative health impacts on humans and wildlife, which is why local governments all around the world are taking steps to monitor sound levels within their cities for the purpose of taking corrective action where needed.



Sonitus Systems offers both the hardware and software for a range of environmental parameters on a continual basis, with real-time information available through our Sonitus Cloud dashboard. For more details on our indoor and outdoor noise and air quality monitoring products and services, please contact the team at www.sonitussystems.com/contact-us


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