Environmental Sound: Capture, measurement and accurate assessment

Monitoring environmental sound is an important element in managing noise impact on society.

In this article published by AWE International, Dan Saunders, of Clarke Saunders Associates, explains some of the factors that need to be considered in the capture, measurement and accurate assessment of environmental sound.

Excessive noise can have a negative impact on health and wellbeing and is a well-recognised public health risk. In fact, the World Health Organization places noise exposure close behind poor air quality as a health risk to the population. Impacts on health and wellbeing include cardiovascular disease, annoyance and distractions to day-to-day activities such as reading and conversation.

The impact of noise pollution

Environmental Sound

Noise pollution has an impact on thousands of people living in the UK every day. Noise is defined as unwanted sound. It can come from a number of different sources and what may be pleasant to some people may be considered a nuisance by others.

According to the Association of Noise Consultants (ANC), the noise sources most likely to cause complaint have been identified as neighbour and domestic noise, barking dogs, transportation, construction and demolition, commercial and leisure and industrial activities.

Different people react to noise in different ways and this subjective human response means a sound source which causes extreme offence to one person may not concern another. A noise which can be heard, and which someone considers annoying, is not necessarily a ‘statutory noise nuisance’.

The judgement of what constitutes a statutory nuisance is highly contextual; there are no fixed noise thresholds for nuisance. In assessing whether or not a noise source is sufficient to amount to a statutory nuisance, an environmental health officer has to consider the reaction of the average, reasonable person to the noise, taking account not only of its volume and character, but also factors such as when and how often the noise occurs and the duration of the noise occurrence. The legal control on noise nuisance is by the local authority serving an abatement notice under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Most noise assessments require an environmental sound survey to objectively quantify the characteristics of specific activities or the soundscape of an area, whether to assess an existing or proposed potential noise source.

This is important information, and it is vital that the measurement of environmental sound is carried out by professionals who understand the nuances and variations that can be encountered, to achieve a successful outcome. Member companies of the ANC may be able to assist with investigation of noise problems.

They may also be able to provide advice to individuals or companies who have been served with a noise abatement notice.

The full article can be viewed at https://www.aweimagazine.com/article/environmental-sound/

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