July 18, 2007
Noise, Regulations

Guidelines for Community Noise

World Health Organization

“… for clear speech perception the background noise level should not exceed 35 dB(A). …

“Measurable effects of noise on sleep begin at LAeq levels of about 30 dB. … When noise is continuous, the equivalent sound pressure level should not exceed 30 dB(A) indoors, if negative effects on sleep are to be avoided. For noise with a large proportion of low-frequency sound a still lower guideline value is recommended. …

“During daytime, few people are highly annoyed at LAeq levels below 55 dB(A), and few are moderately annoyed at LAeq levels below 50 dB(A). Sound levels during the evening and night should be 5–10 dB lower than during the day. Noise with low-frequency components require lower guideline values. For intermittent noise, it is emphasized that it is necessary to take into account both the maximum sound pressure level and the number of noise events. Guidelines or noise abatement measures should also take into account residential outdoor activities. …

“Indoor guideline values for bedrooms are 30 dB LAeq for continuous noise and 45 dB LAmax for single sound events. Lower noise levels may be disturbing depending on the nature of the noise source. At night-time, outside sound levels about 1 metre from facades of living spaces should not exceed 45 dB LAeq, so that people may sleep with bedroom windows open. This value was obtained by assuming that the noise reduction from outside to inside with the window open is 15 dB. To enable casual conversation indoors during daytime, the sound level of interfering noise should not exceed 35 dB LAeq. …

“To be able to hear and understand spoken messages in class rooms, the background sound level should not exceed 35 dB LAeq during teaching sessions.”

Download original document: “WHO Guidelines for Community Noise [1]

Also see: 
Environmental Noise Guidelines for the European Region [2] (2018)
Burden of disease from environmental noise [3] (2011)
Night Noise Guidelines for Europe [4] (2009)

Also see: 
“Night Noise Guidelines for Europe” [5] (2009)
“Burden of disease from environmental noise” [3] (2011)

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/documents/guidelines-for-community-noise/

URLs in this post:

[1] WHO Guidelines for Community Noise: https://docs.wind-watch.org/WHO-Communitynoise.pdf

[2] Environmental Noise Guidelines for the European Region: https://www.wind-watch.org/documents/environmental-noise-guidelines-for-the-european-region/

[3] Burden of disease from environmental noise: https://docs.wind-watch.org/WHO-burden-of-disease-from-environmental-noise-2011.pdf

[4] Night Noise Guidelines for Europe: https://www.wind-watch.org/documents/night-noise-guidelines-for-europe/

[5] “Night Noise Guidelines for Europe”: http://www.wind-watch.org/documents/night-noise-guidelines-for-europe/