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Noise in the Community

  • About 20% of New Yorkers reported being frequently disturbed by noise (more than 3 times per week) at home in 2009
  • Noise, or unwanted sound, is the number one public complaint in New York City. Between March 2003 and March 2013, 311 received more than 2.5 million noise complaints.
  • Common noise sources include: traffic, neighbors, sirens, activity on the streets, construction, animals, the subway, and bars and restaurants.
  • A 2012 Health Department study found that average levels of outdoor noise at many locations around the city exceed federal and international guidelines set to protect public health.

How can community noise affect health?
  • Noise in the community, even at levels that are too low to cause hearing loss, can affect mental and physical health. Noise can lead to stress, higher blood pressure, and sleep disruption.
  • In young children, exposure to noise can cause problems with reading comprehension, concentration, memory and attention span.  Studies show a link between noise and poor academic performance in school children.  
How can I reduce my family's exposure to community noise?
  • Talk to neighbors or businesses about reducing noise levels. If it doesn’t stop, call 311.
  • Talk to your children about the dangers of noise and limit their exposure to noisy places.
  • Wear earplugs or earmuffs in noisy places.
How can building owners reduce noise?
  • Use heavy window curtains and throw rugs on the floors. Use window curtains and floor rugs.
  • Install double-pane windows or other sound-reducing windows.
  • Caulk and seal all air leaks to reduce the noise coming in from the outside.
  • Buy quieter air conditioners and appliances and keep in good repair.
What if I need to make a noise complaint?

Talk to the person making the noise to see if you can resolve the problem. If that doesn’t work, call 311.

What else can be done about noise in my community?