How Harmful Can Noise be?

We are often more tense, anxious and on the edge of our nerves whenever we are present in urban areas, particularly in Beirut. We complain of all the cacophony that prevents us from employing our undivided concentration on our work or have a quiet time.


How harmful noise pollution really is? And how polluted are our highly populated urban areas?

According to the World Health Organization WHO, Noise can cause hearing impairments, interfere with communication, disturb sleep, cause cardiovascular and psycho-physiological effects, reduce performance, and provoke annoyance responses and changes in social behavior.

According to them a 24-hour exposure to an average of 70dB can cause permanent hearing loss, while an average of 55 dB can cause serious to moderate problems, including anxiety and stress. In terms of occupational noise, the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) sets the maximum noise exposure in any work place at 85 dB for 8 hours (Lebanon sets it at 90 dB) in order to prevent hearing problems.

El Nashra news website states that in Beirut noise can reach up to 90 dB, noting that the WHO sets 56 dB as the maximum level of noise an individual should be exposed to without having to suffer any side effects.

Noise in Beirut reaches 76 dB during the day, 71 dB during the evening and 96 dB during the night, based on a study by the AUB. The study shows that the level of noise exceeded the permitted level 52 times during the day, 40 times during the evening and 10 times during the night.

The main sources of noise in Beirut are:
1- Different transportation vehicles, notably Motorcycles
2- Traffic
3- Slamming of car doors
4- Electricity Generators
5- Construction sites/works
6- Airplanes

When you’re sitting in your car complaining about noise, remember you are not only subject to it, but also a creator of noise. Avoid honking your horn whenever there is no need for it.


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