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Noise levels - What is Noise?

A simple definition of noise is: Any unwanted sound.

Noise is measured in decibels and the scale often employed dB(A) is weighted to the range perceived by the human ear. The decibel system is frequently misinterpreted as it is based on a logarithmic scale.  This means that a sound level of 100dB(A) contains twice the energy of a sound level of 97dB(A).

A rise of 10 dB in sound level corresponds roughly to a doubling of subjective loudness. Therefore a sound of 80 dB is twice as loud as a sound of 70 dB which is twice as loud as a sound of 60 dB.  Correspondingly, the 80 dB sound is 4 times louder than the 60 dB sound.

The table below illustrates the impact of changes in noise levels.

Distance plays an important role in the perceived sound level. Sound levels decrease by approximately 6 dB every time the distance from the source is doubled.

A noise level of 35 to 40dB outside a dwelling is acceptable and a maximum of 45dB should be adhered to in order to prevent disturbance to residents 

Sound levels inside a property will be approximately 10dB less than those outside, even when a window is open.

Noise not only affects hearing. It affects other parts of the body and body systems. It is now known that noise:
  • Increases blood pressure
  • Has negative cardiovascular effects such as changing the way the heart beats
  • Increases breathing rate
  • Disturbs digestion
  • Can cause an upset stomach or ulcer
  • Can negatively impact a developing foetus and possibly contribute to premature birth
  • Makes it difficult to sleep, even after the noise stops
  • Intensifies the effects of factors such as drugs, alcohol, carbon monoxide and ageing
    In fact research now suggests that noise may be causing 2000-4000 deaths annually as a result of an increase in cardiovascular disease

    Example Sound Levels
    Example sound levels - possible hearing damage

    0dB    The threshold of human hearing (roughly the sound of a mosquito flying 3 m away)
    15dB  Leaves rustling / Calm breathing
    30dB  A quiet room / Whisper
    50db  Moderate rainfall
    55dB  Normal conversation
    60dB  TV sound at home / Dishwasher
    70dB  Car at 10 metres / Vacuum cleaner
    80dB  Busy traffic at 10 metres / Alarm clock
    85dB   Hearing damage (due to long-term exposure)
    90dB  Power tools / Lawnmower
    Very Loud:
    100dB Pneumatic road drill at 1m / Chain saw / Jet ski
    120dB Hearing damage (due to short-term exposure)
    120dB Amplified music at 2m / Loud car stereo
    130dB Threshold of pain
    130dB Jet taking off (100m away)
    140dB Rifle being fired at 1 metre
    150dB Jet engine at 30 m / Rock music peak
    194dB Theoretical limit for a sound wave at 1 atmosphere environmental pressure 

    In order to prevent disturbance to nearby residents, entertainment venues should fit one of the products below to control sound levels from bands / DJs etc.
      NLX Noise Limiter
    £439.00     Buy Now   

    Lime NLX Noise Limiter    
    Click Here For More Info

    Noise Complaints

    If you are experiencing noise problems you should first try talking to the person responsible. If you are not comfortable doing this alone, your local council will put you in touch with a mediation service. If the issue cannot be resolved by talking to the person responsible, the local authority environmental health department should be able to help.
    It is a good idea to make a record of any disturbance you have suffered prior to contacting them. Include the following information:
    The address where the noise comes from.
    The type of noise - For example: Loud music, dogs barking.
    When and for how long the noise occurs - keep a written record of the dates, times, duration and decibel level if possible.
    The way the noise affects you - For example: Unable to sleep, Distracted from your work.

    Sound Level (decibel) Data Logger Data logging Sound Meter

    Click Here For More Info

    Digital Sound Level (decibel) Meter Digital Sound Level Meter


    Click Here For More Info

    The products above can be used to keep a record of the actual noise level.
    If you measure a level of over 35 decibels in an otherwise quiet room it could be considered as noise nuisance.

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