Environmental noise can affect your health

Middle-aged man annoyed or in pain with his hands over his ears and his eyes shut.Noise in the environment can be a risk to the health of people and communities. It can be defined as unwanted or undesirable sound and can materially affect an individual or a community’s health, well-being and enjoyment of their surroundings.

Prolonged exposure to high levels of noise in workplaces can damage hearing. Measures need to be taken to reduce noise and to protect the hearing of exposed people. WorkSafe NZ is responsible for occupational noise risks (formerly known as the Department of Labour).

Adverse effects of environmental noise include interference with speech communication, disturbance of rest and sleep, psycho-physiological, mental health and performance effects, effects on residential behaviour and annoyance, and interference with activities.

Community and Public Health does not undertake noise control activities and has no legal powers to control noise. However they are required by the Ministry of Health to monitor and liaise with councils about the establishment of objectives, policies and local noise limits for activities in land use zones.

Organisations who are responsible for environmental noise

Environmental noise is the responsibility of everyone who might emit noise. Councils regulate noise under the Resource Management Act 1991. City and Distrct Councils are responsible for noise on land, and the Regional Councils for noise in the coastal marine area.

Other special legislation regulates dog barking, aircraft noise, and road vehicle noise. Noise on the road is the responsibility of the NZ Police.

Community and Public Health will sometimes make submissions on resource consents where there is potential for environmental noise to affect the health of people and communities. This might arise through the location of a proposed activity with inadequate separation from noise-sensitive activities, where provisions of New Zealand Noise Standards may be inappropriately applied or, proposed noise limits are inconsistent with recommended upper limits.

Community and Public Health has access to the specialist acoustics advisor from the Ministry’s Environmental Noise Analysis and Advice Service.


Documents

Downloads

Download or order resources from the Community Health Information Centre.

Links

Contact your local CPH office for further information:

CANTERBURY
Ph: +64 3 364 1777
Fax: +64 3 379 6125

SOUTH CANTERBURY
Ph: +64 3 687 2600
Fax: +64 3 688 6091

WEST COAST
Ph: +64 3 768 1160
Fax: +64 3 768 1169

Page last updated: 24/05/2016

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