Noise and vibration in the environment affects us all, whether it’s your next door neighbour’s dog barking, that annoying whine from a distant power station or the ground borne vibration from a pneumatic breaker outside your office. Measuring environmental noise and vibration in a meaningful way can be difficult, and many descriptors have emerged to try to quantify annoyance by using temporal or frequency analysis.
Environmental noise is the combination of noise pollution from outside, caused by transport, industrial and recreational activities. The effects on us of being exposed to environmental noise can vary from emotional to physiological and psychological. Noise at low levels is not necessarily harmful and environmental noise can convey a sense of liveliness in an area, however, the negative effects of noise exposure can include interference with speech, annoyance, sleep disturbance, anxiety, hearing damage and stress-related cardiovascular health problems. Environmental noise is studied, regulated and monitored by many governments and institutions, as well as forming the basis for a number of different occupations.