Noise is Bad for Health Study

Our readers may be interested in reading the following written by Stacey Burling and published in the Enquirer, Philadelphia.

Noise is so ubiquitous you might not even notice that you’ve forgotten what silence sounds like.

There are sirens, buses, planes, squealing brakes, and hostile horns if you frequent the city, and lawn mowers, leaf blowers, snow blowers, and over-vigilant dogs if you don’t. There’s whatever you’re blasting through your ear buds, voices from the next 12 cubicles over, jarring cellphone ring tones, the television, children screaming, roaring sports fans, restaurants so loud you have laryngitis when you leave, snoring.

“You have noise everywhere,” said Mathias Basner, a University of Pennsylvania professor who thinks much more deeply about sound than most of us. “Our lives are full of noise.”

You might see all that as a sometimes irritating, sometimes exhilarating part of life.

Basner sees it as something else: a public health problem.

He led a review of recent noise research for the Lancet medical journal. His team concluded evidence is mounting that exposure to noise – at work, in the environment, and in social settings – not only causes hearing loss but can result in annoyance (sometimes considered a health problem, Basner said), poor sleep quality, learning problems for children, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease.

Basner, an assistant professor of sleep and chronobiology whose work focuses on airport noise, said some of the negative effects stem from how our bodies respond to sounds that could signal danger.

“The auditory system has kind of a watchman role,” he said. “It’s always open. It’s always awake. It’s constantly checking for environmental threats.”

When we’re exposed to high levels of noise, he said, it creates a stress response. That leads to the release of hormones associated with higher blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. You can’t prove that high levels of noise cause these problems, Basner said, but studies have shown noise exposure is associated with increased risk.

Certain sound levels cause physical damage to the auditory system, but Basner said much of what we call noise is more subjective. A fan might find high-volume Imagine Dragons pleasurable (it could still be ruining his or her ears) while a neighbor could find it highly unpleasant. The office conversation about the concert might not be loud enough to damage eardrums, but it might trigger stress hormones anyway if it makes focusing on a difficult project hard.

The Lancet report found that multiple studies showed a connection between environmental noise and children’s learning problems. Children exposed at school to aircraft, road, and rail noise performed worse on tests of reading and memory and standardized tests than those in quieter schools.

Basner’s team from the International Commission on Biological Effects of Noise also highlighted hospital noise levels, which are twice as high as they were in the 1960s and about four times as high as the World Health Organization recommends. “Hospital noise could therefore be an increasing threat to patient rehabilitation and staff performance,” they wrote.

Many hospitals have recognized the problem and are working to reduce noise. Basner said alarms and telephones, which are designed to get the attention of staff, are most likely to interfere with patients’ sleep.

Getting good-quality sleep is important, Basner said, because certain physiological processes are meant to occur at night, during sleep. If sleep is disrupted, key processes could be disrupted as well.

“The body needs some quiet periods,” he said, “and the most important one is at night.”

Basner, who has a grant from the Federal Aviation Administration to study the impact of airport noise, said noise should be regulated and children and adults should try to avoid noise.

He said his classic example of how to reduce environmental noise is the leaf blower, an extremely noisy device easily (he thinks) replaced by very quiet rakes. No one needs to tune motorcycles so they’re louder. People who live in noisy neighborhoods might help themselves by sleeping in a quieter bedroom at the back of the house rather than in one that fronts the street.

What about noise in the bedroom – room-rattling snoring from the person you married? “That’s not a good thing, either,” Basner said. He said one study showed having a partner who snored and changed position often was almost as bad as being barraged by airport noise. Another found some women lost hearing in the ear that was usually closest to their snoring mate’s side of the bed.

If you have a noise problem go to our web site http://www.soundservice.co.uk or call us on 01993 704981.  We may be able to help.

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Noise through a party wall

It is often thought that just applying a sheet of extra plasterboard to a party wall is all that is required to solve any noise issues they may with their neighbours.  The simple fact is this will not make one iota of difference and will do nothing to improve the soundproofing of the wall that would be appreciated by the ear.

Common types of noise experienced through party walls include loud music and raised voices.  Now it has to be said that loud noise will almost certainly always be heard and not likely to be resolved by upgrading the soundproofing of the wall.  Loud noise  such as continually played music at high volumes or incessant shouting and arguing is an environmental issue and should be addressed by the local authority who have powers to monitor the noise and take action to stop it.

Slamming doors can also be a problem that not only create the obvious airborne noise but also transmit noise through the fabric of the building.  This is called flanking noise..  Noise from slamming doors has to be addressed with the installation of slow closing automatic door closers but other normal levels of noise created by neighbours can usually be solved with the application of soundproofing onto the party wall.

And noise at night through a wall is often a problem because noise at night is always more easily heard due to other, more normal background noise being much quieter or non-existent.  Even lower levels of noise can be annoying and capable of keeping you awake at night, particularly for light sleepers.  It is most unlikely that noise at night through a party wall can be soundproofed entirely but in some cases, it may be possible to reduce the intensity of the noise being heard.

Adding soundproofing products to any wall will entail the loss of a certain amount of room space and for best results, more room space has to be used. If it is possible to lose say just under 6 inches (150mm) of space then an independent stud wall can be fitted and infilled with acoustic mineral and clad with 30mm (2 x 15mm) of high density acoustic plasterboard.  If this is too much space to oose then the next best option is to fit 50mm stud directly to the party wall, infill with acoustic mineral wool then clad with 30mm of acoustic plasterboard decoupled with our 15mm deep resilient bar system.  This method of soundproofing will take up just under 4 inches of space (100mm).

Again if this is still too much space to lose there are two thinner systems that can be considered being our 50mm M20AD solution and the even thinner 27.5mm QuietPanel solution.  However, as mentioned before, these thinner systems will not be as efficient at reducing noise through a wall but can be used when space is at an absolute premium.

Our web page soundproofing party walls describes all of the soundproofing products we are able to offer for walls including how to meet Part E of the Building Regulations for the control of noise through separating wall.  Links to current prices can also be found on the rhs of each product page or you can call our sales department on 01993 704981 for more information.

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Robust Detail or Pre-completion Testing for Part E Compliance?

What is better to meet the minimum requirements of Part E Resistance to the Passage of Sound through separating walls and floors, Robust Detail solutions or pre-completion testing?  The Robust Detail solution in theory is good because the systems promoted in their handbook have been rigorously tested to prove the acoustic results are well in excess of the Part E minimum requirements and no on site testing is required to prove compliance.  With Pre-completion testing, every separating floor and wall has to be independently tested to prove compliance or with multiple build projects, a percentage depending on the size of the project.  With Pre-completion testing, if the results show that separating walls or floors do not meet compliance, they have to be upgraded until they do and only then will the project be signed off by the Building Control Dept.  So as you see, whenever a properly tested property is moved into, the soundproofing of the separating floors and walls is going to meet minimum requirements.  So if the wrong materials have been used or not installed correctly, it is going to be picked up before the property is lived in which is not so with Robust Detail constructed properties. 

Although in theory, the Robust Detail system is good, in reality, it is no different to the old Part E regulations pre 2003.  Until then from 1987, new build flats and attached houses along with dwellings being formed as a change of use had to comply with the Part E regulations in force at that time.  And then, all that had to be done was to show the construction was the same or equivalent to that detailed in the Building Regulation document.  No testing of any description was required.  As long as a test certificate showing that the construction method adopted had been previously tested and shown to meet the noise insulation requirements, it was accepted by Building Control and signed off.  In reality though, what often happened is that either the wrong materials had been used because they were cheaper, installed incorrectly, or of course, both.  So when the pre-completion concept of testing was introduced, it was a step in the right direction.  Where it has all gone wrong is introducing the Robust Detail system at the same time and some constructions that have been built using this system, when tested, have spectacularly failed.

For more information on selecting the right materials to meet Part E go to the commercial part of our web site www.soundservice.co.uk

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Cheap DIY Method to Reduce Bass Noise in a Room

We have just added a new article to our http://www.soundservice.co.uk web site on how to reduce bass noise in a room in the home.  Often these rooms are specifically used for playing and recording music and the build up of standing waves and bass noise in corners can be real problem that can be expensive to address.  Now there is a cheap and easy way to solve this problem using materials that are cheap and easily sourced from suppliers that should not be far from where you live.  To read the article simply go to it via the following link http://www.soundservice.co.uk/bass-noise-reduction.htm.  Once the room has been treated as described in the article, reverberation (echo) within the room will also be a problem that can easily be resolved by adding different thicknesses of our Egg Box profiled sound absorbing foam to the walls and ceiling.  More information on our Egg Box foam can also be viewed on our web site via this link http://www.soundservice.co.uk/acoustic-egg-box-foam.html.  Current prices are also on our web site or for more information, call us on 01993 704981

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Airborne and Impact Noise Question and Answer

Question

I live in a Victorian flat 1868 on the floor.. The people on the ground floor have lovely cornices.+ lathe and plaster ceiling.    As I am having rewiring,  we would both like to put in sound insulation. I especially want to reduce airborne noise but also impact.  I have a timber floor.  Joists 8″ with 14″ between joists.   We cannot hear normal conversation between the floors, but we can hear loud radio (around 70dB and loud walking.  Kitchen and bathrooms (32m2 ) will have lino and the rest (100m2) will have carpets. I have been offered mineral wool in the joists, Acoustilay, Screed 28 and Quattor 45. I would be most grateful if you could please advise.  Many thanks for your help.

Answer

Thank you for your enquiry.  It sounds as though whoever advised the acoustic solution is talking along the correct lines by installing a sound absorbing mineral wool between the joists with a floating floor on top of the existing floor and on top of this a heavy, acoustic underlay on which a carpet should be fitted for best results.  However, I cannot see where the Quattro 45 would be used because this is a sound absorbing plasterboard and is usually applied to ceilings and clearly, this would not normally be wanted on a ceiling with decorative cornices.  The only reason I can think of why this is being suggested is because lathe and plaster ceilings become unstable after a time, so it might be considered prudent to screw on an additional layer of plasterboard, working around the cornices to stabilise the ceiling.  If this is the case the plasterboard would have to be screwed through to the supporting joists and the screw heads filled to hide them before decorating.

With regard to the rest of the acoustic treatment, I can find no fault except there may not be enough mass being added to give effective sound blocking performance against airborne noise.

Normally, a maximum of 100mm of AMW100 acoustic mineral wool should be installed as a loose fit between the joists with the original floorboards (if required) screwed back down.  To add more mass I suggest our system will be more effective and is as follows.

1.  Overlay floorboards with 2mm thick SBM5, a 5kg per square metre soundproofing mat.

2.  On top of this lay 10mm thick R10, a recycled rubber resilient layer to absorb impact noise.

3.  A floating floor of 18mm QuietBoard, a high density (25kg per sq. mtr.) tongued and grooved acoustic flooring

4.  The Acoustic Underlay would be our 15mm thick QuietFloor with a mass of 15kg per sq. mtr.

Carpet can be installed directly on top of the QuietFloor without the need for additional underlay.

This system will be adding 45kg per sq. mtr. of mass to the floor surface that is essential to help control airborne noise and the fact it incorporates a decoupled floor, reduction ofimpact noise will also be catered for.

More information on the products of ours mentioned above can be viewed on our web site via the following links

AMW100                    –           http://www.soundservice.co.uk/acoustic_mineral_wool_AMW.html

SBM5                         –           http://www.soundservice.co.uk/soundproofing_mat_SBM5.html

R10                             –           http://www.soundservice.co.uk/R10_index.htm

QuietBoard                –           http://www.soundservice.co.uk/QuietBoard.htm

QuietFloor Plus        –           http://www.soundservice.co.uk/quietfloor_plus.html

In the kitchen and bathroom, I would suggest the floor covering to be a Cushionfloor type Vinyl on top of moisture resistant ply which in turn is on top of 5mm Linoroll recycled resilient layer which is on top of three layers of 2mm SBM5.  The SBM5 can be loose laid but the Linoroll and ply should be glued down using a latex adhesive supplied by the vinyl fitters and the vinyl fitted as normal onto the ply.  More information on the Linoroll can be viewed on our web site via this link http://www.soundservice.co.uk/Linoroll_5.html

Links to current prices can also be found on the rhs of each product page or you could call us on 01993 704981 for more information.

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Reverberation in Rooms and Sound Absorption

Question

We have just finished extension below and I can’t stand the noise! Can hardly hear each other speak and tv sound is terrible. What can I do to improve this cost effectively.  And where is best place to position panels?

Room is 9.5 m long by 4.2 m wide and ceiling height ranges from 2.4 to 5.2 mono pitch. Tiled floors, lots of glass etc.

I don’t want to put curtains up if possible but I am going to get blinds? Any type better than others without resorting to thick material roman blinds. I was thinking about duette honeycomb blinds?

We are going to get thick shaggy rug to take about approx 1/3of floor in front of tv. Also velvet 2 seater couch and cushions etc.

I was thinking of a couple of Artsorption panels for walls . And then maybe material and making our own boards covering with sound absorbing fabric. The walls are dry lined and thick insulation on them so the idea of self adhesive spray as a fixing option is great.

Is that going to make any difference and how may m2 would we need to put up? We are not looking for a perfect recording sound atmosphere, just comfortable useable living space.

Answer

Thank you for your enquiry and attached photographs.  From these I can see that the room has no sound absorption within it whatsoever which will account for the excessive reverberation you are experiencing.  This is one of the problems with the modern look that does not include carpets or fabric covered furnishings.  Changing the couch as you suggest along with cushions will help as will installing a thick rug.  However, the main reason for the reverberation being probably worse than expected is because of the shape of the ceiling.  The angle of the ceiling will effectively reflect noise more efficiently exacerbating the noise problem you are experiencing.  If it is possible to install sound absorbing tiles on the ceiling I think you will find this will make the biggest difference but certainly, installing sound absorbing panels that can be our Photosorption or coloured fabric covered panels on the walls will also help.

As it is, I would expect your room to have an echo decay rate (the time taken for noise to stop echoing) in excess of 3 seconds.  To get this down to 1 second would normally require the installation of sound absorption equal to the floor area of the room and can be installed on any of the hard surfaces within the room.  I should think you would be happy if the decay rate could be reduced to 2 seconds so suggest you keep adding sound absorption until you reach the desired level of acoustics you will be happy with.  Anything that is added to the walls or ceiling should be at least 25mm thick.  This thickness is the minimum that is effective at absorbing normal noise levels such as talking.  Thicker sound absorption is more efficient at absorbing lower frequencies such as bass drums.  There is a wide choice of products that you could consider using including our Coresorption, a basic sound absorbing panel that you can cover yourself with any woven or knitted fabric and these can be seen on our web site via the following links

Walls               –           http://www.soundservice.co.uk/soundabsorber_walls.html

Ceilings          –           http://www.soundservice.co.uk/soundabsorber_ceilings.html

Current prices are also on our web site or get back to me if you require more specific information.

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Noise Control in Walls, Floors & Stairs Question & Answer

Question

I found your website whilst researching soundproofing and I was attracted by the cost savings you have advertised. I presently live in an upper flat  in a bloc of 4 or upper villa as it is rather grandly termed. This is a 1930’s affordable housing development and the sound insulation between ourselves and the neighbours is appalling, we can often hear complete conversations as well as tv noise. When I first moved in I laid a secondary hardwood floor on top of the existing floor with underlay between thinking this would help the sound insulation as well as provide us with a natural wooden floor. This was a big mistake as I now realise that I should have filled the cavity and used acoustic plasterboard. We have since installed carpets with cloud 9 underlay which has helped but still does not cut out even the talking. There could also be significant sound travel through the walls but presently we have an elderly woman living next door and apart from the tv noise she is extremely quiet (could become an issue).

This summer we are planning to extend into our loft and moving our living/kitchen/dining room upstairs. We would like to ensure that the loft space is acoustically insulated and are interested in what products and specification you would recommend for this. Further to the loft space we are installing a new staircase which is housed above our neighbours bedroom. We will have to lift the existing floorboards in this area and are looking for a solution to minimise impact noise for our downstairs neighbour and also through the wall to our bedrooms and next door neighbour.  We have bought a small quantity of thermafleece with the intention of filling the cavity between the joist in the hall area (like the eco/thermal credentials as well). Ideally we would leave the hall as natural wooden floor but in reality we would probably have to have a stair carpet or runner unless there is a viable solution. Can you please advise on building spec and also quantities of product for our loft space, stairway and also hall way.

Over the years the sound pollution has become an increasing problem and we would like to sort out the sound issue once and for all in these areas. Depending on costs and also on effectiveness we would even consider soundproofing the entire flat.

Answer

Thank you for your enquiry and before I start to advise on how to upgrade the noise control of your loft floor and stairs I have to say that Cloud 9 type underlay is not effective at reducing airborne noise, only impact noise so any benefit you have achieved with the use of this product I am sure would have been most welcome. 

The best way to improve the airborne sound insulation of a floor or wall is to add sound absorption and extra high density mass along with decoupling one or both sides.  With separating floors this normally entails decoupling the ceiling with our Resilient Bars and screwing 30mm (2 x 15mm) of high density Acoustic Plasterboard to the bars.  Likewise with the floors, these are usually decoupled by installing a floating floor system and with 100mm of AMW100 acoustic mineral wool as a loose fit between the joists you will have obtained a high degree of sound insulation.

With walls the same principle applies and for best results, an independent stud wall should be built 25mm away from the existing wall, infilled again with AMW type acoustic mineral wool then clad with 30mm of Acoustic Plasterboard.  A thinner version that only takes up 50mm of space is our 20mm M20AD high density recycled rubber mats glued to the wall again with 300mm of Acoustic Plasterboard glued on top.  The M20AD is both a sound absorber as well as a product with high mass so is a very good alternative to the stud wall solution although not as efficient.

Stairs always have to be carpeted and if it is only impact noise that has to be reduced to give best results I suggest the carpet this time is installed on top of the Cloud 9 underlay you already have.  Otherwise you could use our more efficient 10mm A10 acoustic underlay available in 15 sq mtr. rolls or our even more efficient 15mm thick QuietFloor Plus that will also help reduce airborne noise in addition.  With stairs and again for best soundproofing results, the underside should be boxed in with 30mm of Acoustic Plasterboard and AMW in the void.  Battens will have to be installed to the edges of the underside of the stairs that the plasterboard can be fixed to and to contain the AMW.  You mentioned sheep’s wool and this is a good alternative to using AMW because it does not cause the same degree of irritation to the skin with the added advantage of more efficient thermal insulation.

More information including prices on all of these products can be found on our web site www.soundservice.co.uk   Installation instructions along with technical data can also be found on the rhs of each product page site or call us on 01993704981

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