Q:

How do you determine an acceptable noise level for residential areas?

A:

Quick Answer

An acceptable indoor noise level limit for residential areas is 45 decibels. The limit for outdoor areas with human activity is 55 decibels, and the limit of safety before hearing loss is 70 decibels, reports the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. State and local governments are responsible for legislation regulating noise levels.

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Full Answer

Residential area noise levels are abnormal and disruptive when they hinder conversation, sleep and other usual activities and have a general negative impact on quality of life, explains the EPA. Research confirms that high noise levels cause problems such as high blood pressure, stress, loss of productivity and hearing loss. Although the EPA does not directly regulate noise issues, its noise level guidelines provide a basis to help local and state governments set standards.

Because there are no nationwide standards, residents should be aware of local ordinances concerning noise, advises Noise Off. To influence agencies that are not enforcing local regulations, people may need to compile evidence using sound level meters and video cameras. If noise levels are unacceptable, citizens can attend local meetings to promote community awareness, write letters to responsible authorities, lobby elected officials to pass new noise ordinances and lobby law enforcement to handle complaints more expediently. Contacting local media to publicize the problem may also help.

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