Community or neighborhood noise is emitted from a variety of sources including roads, rail, air traffic, industry, construction, and neighborhood activities. The health consequences of harmful levels of noise can be significant, including hearing impairment and loss, interference with speech communication, disturbance of rest and sleep, as well as the potential for physiological, mental-health, and performance effects. Noise control is a federal, state, and local issue in the United States, and there are a number of tools employed to minimize the harmful effects. Local planners can minimize the adverse effects by working cooperatively with other public and private agencies to plan, design, and construct development projects. In addition, effective land-use planning and development may discourage sensitive land uses near highways and other noise sources, and promote the use of open space separating roads from developments.
Design for Health (DFH) Materials
- Planning Information Sheet: Considering Community Noise Issues through Comprehensive Planning and Ordinances (791 KB)
- Case Studies: King County, Washington and Fremantle, Western Australia
- Image Resources
- Topical Planning Guides
- Comprehensive Plan Review Checklists
- Example Plans
Reports and Guidelines:
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Noise Control Act.
- Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). 2006. Highway Traffic Noise in the United States: Problem and Response. (98 KB)
- Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). 1995. Highway Traffic Noise Analysis and Abatement Policy and Guidance. (282 KB)
- World Health Organization (WHO). 1999, Guidelines for community noise.
- World Health Organization, European Office
WHO Europe has a wonderful set of information on noise, housing, and sleep.
- The European Commission’s web site on environmental noise includes a number of policy documents and also discusses health effects.
- NOISE, the Noise Observation and Information Service for Europe included maps of noise exposure by country.
- Noise Mapping England, a site developed by the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs, has a wonderful interactive online mapping feature. Information is presented at a very fine level of detail for a number of urban areas.
- Noise Pollution Clearinghouse. Law library: Noise regulations and ordinances of U.S. cities, counties, and towns.
- Highway Traffic Noise and Land Use Development; Coordinating Federal, State and Local authorities. Transportation Research Board of the National Academies. Number 240. (964 KB)