Environmental noise is defined as the summary of noise pollution from outside sources such as industrial, transportation, or recreational. Environmental noise is generally present in some form in all areas of human activity. The effects in humans of exposure to environmental noise may vary from emotional to physiological and psychological. The adverse effects of noise exposure could include interference with speech or other desired sounds, annoyance, sleep disturbance, anxiety, hearing damage and stress-related cardiovascular health problems. As a result, environmental noise is studied, regulated and monitored by many governments and institutions. Most municipalities set a dBA limit at the nearest sensitive receiver which is usually the property line of an industrial, commercial, or residential building or its outside wall.
Some common sources of environmental noise are:
The objective of environmental noise control is to improve the acoustic environment in a community by reducing noise levels. Noise from sources such as industrial operations, aviation and rail, oil and gas extraction, and construction sites can affect neighboring residential areas, ranging from intolerable noise levels to structural vibrations. Well planned noise control can eliminate a major component of an industrial site’s impact on its surrounding environment. Since sound propagation outdoors is subject to topographic and meteorological effects (e.g. location, wind, temperature, humidity) that affect the distance, speed, and direction with which environmental noise travels from a source to a listener, a detailed analysis by an acoustic consultant is necessary to formulate an effective noise mitigation plan. This would include noise and vibration measurements, monitoring, modeling, as well as designing a mitigation plan.
Once a noise mitigation plan is established, the next step involves the implementation of sound control products. These can include but are not limited to exterior sound walls, HVAC silencers and louvers, acoustic composite building liners, and exterior pipe and duct wraps. For long term applications where noise and vibration quality compliance information and/or threshold alerting is needed, real-time monitoring systems may be used to provide report data as well as manage operations and impact on surrounding communities.
With the expansion of industry being established closer to residential communities, particularly in the oil and gas field, environmental acoustics is essential for each to co-exist with minimal impact on the health and lifestyle of neighboring residents.