Noise health effects are the health consequences of regular exposure, to consistent elevated sound levels. Elevated workplace or environmental noise can cause hearing impairment, hypertension, ischemic heart disease, annoyance, and sleep disturbance. Changes in the immune system and birth defects have been also attributed to noise exposure.
Traffic is the main source of noise pollution in cities.
Although some presbycusis may occur naturally with age, in many developed nations the cumulative impact of noise is sufficient to impair the hearing of a large fraction of the population over the course of a lifetime. Noise exposure also has been known to induce tinnitus, hypertension, vasoconstriction, and other cardiovascular adverse effects.
Beyond these effects, elevated noise levels can create stress, increase workplace accident rates, and stimulate aggression and other anti-social behaviors. The most significant causes are vehicle and aircraft noise, prolonged exposure to loud music, and industrial noise. In Norway, road traffic has been demonstrated to cause almost 80% of the noise annoyances reported.
There may be psychological definitions of noise as well. Firecrackers may upset domestic and wild animals or noise-traumatized individuals. The most common noise-traumatized persons are those exposed to military conflicts, but often loud groups of people can trigger complaints and other behaviors about noise. Infants are easily startled by noise.
The social costs of traffic noise in EU22 are more than €40 billion per year, and passenger cars and lorries (trucks) are responsible for bulk of costs. Traffic noise alone is harming the health of almost every third person in the WHO European Region. One in five Europeans is regularly exposed to sound levels at night that could significantly damage health.
Noise also is a threat to other species in marine and terrestrial ecosystems alike.