Does Noise Pollution cause stress?

In October 2018 the World Health Organisation (WHO) published their findings from an international investigation into how much noise affects us, including asking 'Does noise pollution cause stress?'. It concluded it is one of the top environmental hazards to both physical and mental health and well-being in the European Region.

Noise pollution can be defined as unwanted or excessive sound that causes harm or annoyance. High levels of noise can disrupt, distract, or have a deleterious effect on our health and/or environmental quality.

While people mainly think of noise pollution as a problem of the big cities, it can also be found within our individual homes and offices at levels that can have a negative impact on your health and productivity.

Noise Pollution and stress in the workplaceThere are many different sources of noise pollution including:

  • Traffic and transport (including aeroplanes & airports)
  • Construction Noise
  • Workplace Noise
  • Domestic noise

Workplace noise

While to most of us the vision of workplace noise conjures up loud assembly line, and factories and noisy construction sites, and whilst these examples definitely apply, regular offices can be just a culpable. With more people packed into busy office spaces, office noise is one of the most common complaints among workers. The incessant chatter of colleagues ruining your concentration; people shouting over you when you are trying to hold a conversation on the phone; or perhaps even maintenance or building work going on next door. It’s irritating and it’s distracting and worst of all most people feel there is nothing they can do about it so this leads to feelings of frustration and an exacerbation of workplace stress.

Negative Effects of Workplace Noise

Previous investigations [1] conducted to study the effects of workplace noise pollution on health and wellness, including that of Cornell University, have shown that noise pollution can negatively impact us in several ways:

  • Productivity: We all know that noise can be distracting. Those working in noisy office environments have also been found to be less cognitively motivated and to have higher stress levels, according to a Cornell University study.
  • Health: Perhaps the most serious problem created by noise pollution is the impact it has on our health. Noise pollution can trigger the body’s stress response, one of its major health effects is chronic stress and the high levels of stress hormones that go with it. As a result, noise pollution has also been linked with health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. Environmental and domestic noise pollution can also impact sleep quality by preventing sleep and disrupting sleep cycles. And, perhaps most significantly, because chronic stress can lower your immunity to all disease, noise pollution is a general threat to our health and well-being.

Find out more about the Noise at Work Regulations.

Noise Pollution and stress in the workplaceSolutions for Workplace Noise Pollution

Noise Pollution and stress in the workplacePulsar Instruments offers many solutions to help people take control of workplace noise. In our Free Employer's Guide: 5 steps for controlling workplace noise we set out a methodology for investigating the levels of noise in your workplace and advise of which noise measurement equipment is needed to do this. We also offer a range of noise-activated signage to warn people when pre-set noise levels are exceeded. Elsewhere on our sitewe discuss various solutions for workplace place, office, educational, hospital, construction, entertainment and other forms of noise pollution.

If you would like to talk to one of our team to seek some more advice please contact us today.


[1] Including 2018 investigations reported by WHO, Cornell University, Jabra & Kantar, Oxford Economics and more.

You might also like to read