Did you know? Noise pollution costs the British economy around £20 billion annually in economic, social, and health costs1.
Noise pollution may be an invisible threat, but it is actually one of the largest environmental causes of ill health, second only to air pollution2.
Simply perk up your ears and you’ll realise that noise pollution is everywhere — whether it’s the bustling sounds of the people around you, or the clamour of busy traffic on the streets — and it’s difficult to avoid.
Noise pollution is so harmful that, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately one million lives are lost every year as result of exposure to environmental noise3.
Social and healthcare costs of noise pollution
A variety of health problems and issues can be associated with noise pollution. As such, a significant negative impact to the economy can be observed.
For example, heart disease derived from exposure to daytime traffic noise costs approximately £1,183 million per annum. Meanwhile, tinnitus from traffic/leisure noise and hearing loss from loud music cost £52 million per annum and £38 million per annum respectively4.
At the same time, daytime and night-time noise can result in slower learning in children, which costs £252 million per year4.
There are also further costs associated with loss of amenity. This refers to the conscious displeasure of those exposed to the noise. Such situations include noise pollution affecting house price value, sleep disturbance, or the cost of measures to reduce exposure to noise pollution. Loss of amenity from noise pollution is valued at approximately £2-3 billion a year1.
The truth is, sleep disturbance is one of the most common consequences of noise pollution. When your sleep is interrupted, your memory and creativity become impaired, along with your sense of judgment and psychomotor skills.
Research has shown that people living near airports or roads with busy traffic report a higher frequency of headaches, take more sleeping pills and sedatives, and are more prone to minor accidents due to their dazed and weary state5.
As a result, noise pollution has a negative impact on productivity via a combination of distraction, fatigue, and interruption of communication. This loss of productivity amounts to approximately £2 billion a year1.