top of page

Letter to Toronto Public Health & A List of Articles on the Adverse Health Impacts of Noise

Original Letter

January 25, 2017

Mr. Ronald MacFarlane and Ms. Kelly Drew

Toronto Public Health 277 Victoria Street

7th Floor Toronto, Ontario M5B 1W2

Dear Mr. MacFarlane and Ms. Drew

Thank you for meeting with representatives of the Toronto Noise Coalition. The meeting was informative and we look forward to keeping in touch as your work progresses. As promised, we are enclosing a list of articles that you may find of interest. We reviewed these in our research on noise and find them relevant.

You will note we included in the list, two papers that specifically address the health effects of noise on children. We note the present bylaw singles out hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, senior citizens’ residences, or other similar uses for special attention in Quiet Zones. We suggest that schools and child care facilities should also be included for special consideration.

You might also be interested in the Noise Study underway at New York University. According to the researchers the project which involves large-scale noise monitoring – leverages the latest in machine learning technology, big data analysis, and citizen science reporting to more effectively monitor, analyze, and mitigate urban noise pollution. Known as Sounds of New York City (SONYC), this multi-year project has received a $4.6 million grant from the National Science Foundation and has the support of City health and environmental agencies. You may wish to contact the researchers to learn more that may support Toronto’s work.

As well, we are passing along the link to a supplementary report to the TNC Position Paper – “Guidance From the NYC Noise Code” at It includes some of the NYC resources used to assist industries to comply with the NYC Noise Code. This should be read in conjunction with the TNC’s Position Paper on our website at

We trust this information will be of value in your research going forward and look forward to the progress and draft of your report in June.


for the Toronto Noise Coalition Mary Helen Spence, Liz Sauter, Harold Smith, Cathie MacDonald, Lianne Miller Attachment


List of Articles

1. Article Name - Environmental Noise Pollution in the United States: Developing an Effective Public Health Response, Environmental Health Perspectives, American Public Health Association; Volume 122|No 2|Feb 2014

Article Authors Monica S. Hammer, Tracy K. Swinburn, Richard L. Neitzel

Date Published February 2014

Article Summary This article stresses the seriousness of noise pollution and summarizes medical and scientific evidence that concludes that noise pollution causes serious health problems. It explains why US noise regulations have been politically compromised by special interest groups. It also provides recommended action steps to help reduce the public health consequences of environmental noise pollution.


2. Article Name - Cardiovascular Effects of Noise, Noise and Health

Article Author – Wolfgang Babisch

Date Published – 2011|Volume 13|Issue 52

Article Summary This paper emphasizes the correlation between noise and health. It provides evidence that Noise adversely affects cardiovascular health: high blood pressure, stress, etc. Subjects who had lived several years in noisy environments still respond to acute noise stimuli. Repeated arousal from sleep is associated with a sustained increase in daytime blood pressure. The long-term effects of chronic noise exposure at high noise levels studied in animals, show permanent vascular changes and alterations in the heart muscle, which indicate increased risk of cardiovascular mortality. Although the effects tend to be diluted in the occupational studies due to the 'healthy worker effect (1), epidemiological studies carried out in the occupational field indicate that employees in high noise environments have a higher risk for high blood pressure and myocardial infarction.

(1) Workers usually exhibit lower overall death rates than the general population because the severely ill and chronically disabled are ordinarily excluded from employment


3. Article Name - What is a Safe Noise Level for the Public, American Journal of Public Health,

Article Author - Daniel Fink, MD, MBA

Date Published - January 2017, Vol 107, No. 1

Article Summary This US article argues that 85 decibels is an unsafe noise exposure level for the public. This standard assumes workers have quiet when not at work, a situation unavailable to most Americans. Consumer and industrial products should be labeled with noise ratings. The successful marketing of quieter dishwashers displaying decibel ratings demonstrates these appliances can be built and sold. Effective noise control technologies exist including noise reduction via design and material specifications and sound insulating, isolating, reflecting, or absorbing techniques. If the United States could become largely smoke-free, it can also become quieter.


4. Article Name - Burden of disease from environmental noise, Quantification of healthy life years lost in Europe (cited in Update on the Health Effects of Noise by the Medical Office of Health, Dr. David MacKeown - August 28, 2015)

Article Author – WHO, European Commission

Date Published – 2011

Article Summary The high level of annoyance caused by environmental noise should be considered an environmental health burden. There is sufficient evidence from large-scale epidemiological studies linking exposure to environmental noise with adverse health effects. Environmental noise should be considered not only as a cause of nuisance but also a concern for public health and environmental health.

The reduction in cognitive ability in school age children from noise exposure will persist for some time after the noise exposure ceases. WHO defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.



5. Article Name – CHILDREN AND NOISE - Children's Health and the Environment WHO Training Package for the Health sector

Article Author – World Health Organization

Date Published – Dec. 2009 – Latest update

Article Summary This slide show presentation outlines children’s vulnerability to noise, the ensuing adverse health effects and required action. Unsafe noise is increasing in neighbourhoods, schools, hospitals, care centres, etc. from increasing population environmental noise sources and levels. It classifies these vulnerable child subgroups: fetuses and babies, preterm, low birth weight, children with dyslexia and hyperactivity and children on ototoxic medication. Children are more vulnerable to noise because of their differing perceptions of noise dangers; lack of ability to control the noise environment; interference with communicating danger and more exposure due to behavior. Children may also be more vulnerable due to increased immaturity, critical periods in relation to learning, undeveloped coping mechanisms and settings where noise is prevalent.

The implications of noise on children are: lifetime impairment of learning and education, short term deficit etc. Fetal noise exposure can lead to prematurity and growth retardation, impaired reading ability, cognitive development, psychological damage, hypertension, etc. It recommends that noise be controlled at the source and that noise intervention occur at neonatal intensive care units, amplified sound venues, schools, day care centres, etc.


6. Article Name – Noise pollution: non-auditory effects on health

Article Author – Stephen A Stansfeld; Mark P Matheson British Medical Bulletin | Oxford Academic

Date Published – 01 December 2003

Article Summary This article discusses noise and non-auditory health effects of noise in children. Presents that children are particularly vulnerable to non-auditory health effects of noise. They have less cognitive capacity to understand and anticipate stressors and lack well-developed coping strategies. Since children are 3 developing physically and cognitively, there is risk that exposure to noise may have irreversible negative consequences.

Studies of children exposed to environmental noise have consistently found effects on cognitive performance. The most informative studies of the effects of noise on cognition have been field studies focusing on primary school children.

The research evidence suggests that chronic exposure to noise affects cognitive functions involving central processing and language comprehension. Deficits have been found in sustained attention and visual attention. Relatedly, according to teachers’ reports, noise-exposed children have difficulties concentrating compared to children from quieter schools. Children exposed to chronic environmental noise have been found to have poorer auditory discrimination and speech perception as well as poorer memory requiring high processing demands. Finally, chronically exposed children tend to have poorer reading ability and school performance on national standardized tests.


Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Follow Us
  • Twitter Basic Square
bottom of page