We have all been at an extremely loud place where, no matter how hard we try to focus or simply enjoy the company we are with, it is simply impossible to filter out the noise and relax. Even when at a lower volume, constant noise still wears on you, especially when in an environment you cannot leave. Did you know, though, that continuous sounds may have a greater impact on your health than you could imagine? Have you ever considered that noise can diminish your immune system’s ability to keep you healthy, making it difficult to fight infections such as Covid?
It is well documented that working or living in a noisy environment impacts mental and physical health and causes higher stress levels. This alone is enough to be detrimental to your wellbeing, as long-term stress causes physical, behavioral, cognitive, and emotional symptoms.
Over time, stress can worsen existing health conditions and increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease (including high blood pressure, heart attack, or stroke), diabetes, obesity, gastrointestinal problems, mental health problems such as depression and anxiety, menstrual problems, sexual dysfunction in men and women, and even permanent hair loss.
If this isn’t enough, chronic stress also reduces your immune system’s ability to keep you healthy, making it difficult to fight diseases and infections while also increasing inflammation. This means that not only are you more likely to catch every cold or flu that you are exposed to and experience more symptoms for longer when you are ill, but are also at risk of developing inflammatory conditions.
Researchers have gone even further than simply linking noise to stress and proven that noise is directly related to negative health outcomes.
In 2019, a team of cardiologists conducted a review of current studies on the effects of traffic noise (including air, road, and railway traffic) on health. Their analysis found that road-traffic noise increases incidences of depression and anxiety and is considered to be a significant risk factor in your chance of developing cardiovascular disease. The incidence of coronary heart disease rises by 8% for every 10 decibel (dBA) increase starting at 50 dB(A).
For comparison, a quiet living room is rated at 40 dBA, normal conversation at 60 dBA, and the noise of a car at 70 dBA.
Hahad et al. went on to state, “Traffic noise at night causes fragmentation of sleep, elevation of stress hormone levels, and oxidative stress. These factors can promote the development of vascular dysfunction (endothelial dysfunction) and high blood pressure, which, in turn, elevate the cardiovascular risk” (1).
Another interesting study published this year investigated the link between Type 2 Diabetes in Danish adults and air, road, and rail traffic noise. The information showed, “Long-term exposure to road, railway, and possibly aircraft traffic noise was associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes” (2).
While these studies focused on traffic noise, they clearly showed a link between long-term exposure to noise and increased risk of harm to your health. Since the sound of a normal conversation is rated at 10 dBA higher than the 50 dBA that is considered relatively safe for health, it is no wonder that all the ongoing conversations and noises in many of the open, echoing places with poor acoustic design that so many of us work in would increase stress levels and produce detrimental health outcomes over time.
While you may not be able to control the noises in your environment, you can take steps to find moments of silence and reduce the effects of stress caused by constant noise. Try spending time in a nearby peaceful setting during your lunch break and take a bit of time throughout the day to breathe, quiet your mind, and meditate. It may even help to find a quiet space where you can retreat for a few minutes when you notice your stress levels are rising.
Although we cannot improve wellbeing through decreased noise for everyone, we at FSorb are doing our part to reduce the burden of noise in buildings throughout North America. We would be privileged to help you find solutions to improve the acoustic environment of your space with our healthy, eco-friendly acoustic panels.
At FSorb, we are motivated by improving human health and do so by creating eco-friendly acoustic products. Our mission is to help designers build beautiful spaces that reduce excess ambient noise while calming the human nervous system. With over 25 years in the acoustic business we stand behind FSorb as a durable, environmentally friendly, and low-cost product. If you want an acoustic solution that is safe to human health at an affordable price, then we are your resource.
1. Hahad, O., Kröller-Schön, S., Daiber, A., & Münzel, T. (2019). The Cardiovascular Effects of Noise. Deutsches Arzteblatt international, 116(14), 245–250. https://doi.org/10.3238/arztebl.2019.0245
2. Thacher, J. D., Poulsen, A. H., Hvidtfeldt, U. A., Raaschou-Nielsen, O., Brandt, J., Geels, C., Khan, J., Münzel, T., & Sørensen, M. (2021). Long-Term Exposure to Transportation Noise and Risk for Type 2 Diabetes in a Nationwide Cohort Study from Denmark. Environmental health perspectives, 129(12), 127003. https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP9146