Stress Management Situational Stress How Noise Pollution Might Cause Increased Stress Levels By Elizabeth Scott, PhD Elizabeth Scott, PhD Twitter Elizabeth Scott, PhD is an author, workshop leader, educator, and award-winning blogger on stress management, positive psychology, relationships, and emotional wellbeing. Learn about our editorial process Updated on June 29, 2020 Fact checked Verywell Mind content is rigorously reviewed by a team of qualified and experienced fact checkers. Fact checkers review articles for factual accuracy, relevance, and timeliness. We rely on the most current and reputable sources, which are cited in the text and listed at the bottom of each article. Content is fact checked after it has been edited and before publication. Learn more. by Sean Blackburn Fact checked by Sean Blackburn LinkedIn Sean is a fact-checker and researcher with experience in sociology and field research. Learn about our editorial process Print Nycretoucher / Getty Images Noise pollution is any intrusive noise that disrupts, distracts, or detracts from regular functioning. While we often think of noise pollution as a problem of big cities, with the competing sounds of more people in a smaller space, noise pollution can also be found in suburban neighborhoods (in the form of leaf blowers, lawnmowers, and home construction) and even individual homes and workplaces. And there is a great deal of scientific research to show that noise causes stress and can have a negative impact on your health and productivity. Causes of Noise Pollution While there are many different sources of noise pollution, these, in particular, have been found to have a negative impact on health. Airplanes Noise pollution from airplanes has a significant negative impact on the health and well-being of those who live close to airports. This can include heart disease, high blood pressure, and elevated stress hormones, as well as sleep disruption. Traffic One of the complaints of those who live in big cities or on busy streets is the disruption from the sounds of traffic. Interestingly, though, even low levels of traffic noise can be damaging. Traffic noise is one of the most commonly experienced sources of noise pollution, and research has tied it to depressive symptoms along with cardiovascular and respiratory-related deaths. Workplace Noise Most of us may think of loud assembly lines or construction sites when we think of noise pollution in the workplace, and while these examples definitely apply, regular offices are not immune. With more people packed into busy office spaces, office noise is a common complaint. Co-workers who talk, drum their fingers on the desk, or offer other distracting noises can decrease the productivity of those around them without realizing it. Home Sounds Many people don’t think of their homes as noisy, but if there’s a lot of activity in the home, including a constantly running TV, this overall noise level can actually be a threat to concentration and a cause of stress. In fact, children from more noisy homes do suffer ill effects that include less cognitive growth, delayed language skills, increased anxiety, and impaired resilience. Negative Effects of Noise Perhaps the most serious problem created by sound pollution is the impact it has on health. Because sound 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. That explains why noise pollution has been linked with heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. 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 health and wellness. What to Do About Noise Pollution 8 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Wright B, Peters E, Ettinger U, Kuipers E, Kumari V. Understanding noise stress-induced cognitive impairment in healthy adults and its implications for schizophrenia. Noise Health. 2014;16(70):166-176. doi:10.4103/1463-1741.134917 Correia AW, Peters JL, Levy JI, Melly S, Dominici F. Residential exposure to aircraft noise and hospital admissions for cardiovascular diseases: multi-airport retrospective study. BMJ. 2013;347:f5561. doi:10.1136/bmj.f5561 Schmidt FP, Basner M, Kröger G, et al. Effect of nighttime aircraft noise exposure on endothelial function and stress hormone release in healthy adults. Eur Heart J. 2013;34(45):3508-3514a. doi:10.1093/eurheartj/eht269 Kim SJ, Chai SK, Lee KW, et al. Exposure-Response Relationship Between Aircraft Noise and Sleep Quality: A Community-based Cross-sectional Study. Osong Public Health Res Perspect. 2014;5(2):108-114. doi:10.1016/j.phrp.2014.03.004 Tobías A, Recio A, Díaz J, Linares C. Health impact assessment of traffic noise in Madrid (Spain). Environ Res. 2015;(137):136-140. doi:10.1016/j.envres.2014.12.011 McMillan BTM, Saffran JR. Learning in Complex Environments: The Effects of Background Speech on Early Word Learning. Child Development. 2016;87(6):1841-1855. doi:10.1111/cdev.12559 Klatte M, Bergström K, Lachmann T. Does noise affect learning? A short review on noise effects on cognitive performance in children. Front Psychol. 2013;4:578. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00578 Münzel T, Sørensen M, Schmidt F, et al. The Adverse Effects of Environmental Noise Exposure on Oxidative Stress and Cardiovascular Risk. Antioxid Redox Signal. 2018;28(9):873-908. doi:10.1089/ars.2017.7118 Additional Reading Orban E, Mcdonald K, Sutcliffe R, et al. Residential Road Traffic Noise and High Depressive Symptoms After Five Years of Follow-Up: Results from the Heinz Nixdorf Recall Study. Environ Health Perspect. 2016;124(5):578-585. doi:10.1289/ehp.1409400 Prasher D. Is there evidence that environmental noise is immunotoxic? Noise Health. 2009;11(44):151-155. doi:10.4103/1463-1741.53361 By Elizabeth Scott, PhD Elizabeth Scott, PhD is an author, workshop leader, educator, and award-winning blogger on stress management, positive psychology, relationships, and emotional wellbeing. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? 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