Noise affects our physical and mental well being

A major Swedish study shows that noise has a great affect on our lives. Not just at work but also in our free time. The consequences are hearing loss, stress, uneasiness, concentration difficulty and many other symptoms.

You might recognise the situation: You are I a café trying to hold a conversation with your friends over a cup of coffee, but the conversation is constantly being interrupted by other peoples talking, chairs scraping across the floor, telephones ringing, thundering espresso machines and music which drowns out everything else. The conversation is difficult to follow, you get a headache, you feel tired, you cannot concentrate and in the worst instance you can get a hearing impairment.

The Swedish study, which is conducted by Hörselskadades Riksförbund (HRF), a large, Swedish interest group for the hearing impaired, shows that it is not just in the traditional noisy workplaces such as building sites and factories that noise can have negative consequences. We can also be affected by noise in offices, schools and in our free time.

Bothersome noise at work
According to the study, 57% are disturbed by noise in the office and 51% of the 142 journalists asked reported that it was difficult to concentrate at work. Among teachers and pedagogues, 67% answered that they think the noise they experience in the workplace is a problem and 57% experience that it is difficult to hear what the pupils are saying. The sound level in schools is often around 65-78 decibels. In order for a teacher to be heard, they must speak at a level of 75-88 decibels, which is equivalent to the sound of heavy traffic. That is a level which is directly damaging for ones hearing.

( Source: Hörselskadades Riksförbund 2010)

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