Toronto Public Health found that average 24-hour equivalent
noise levels in Canada’s most populous city were 62.9 dBA, with average daily levels at individual locations ranging
between 50.4 to 78.3 dBA, and mean levels of 64.1 dBA daytime (7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.) and 57.5 dBA night-time. The agency
conducted the noise monitoring study in the early fall of 2016 and reported the results this past June.
Release of the report came with warnings
from public health officials about the auditory and non-auditory health risks associated with exposure to noise at such levels,
along with recommendations to address the problem. The report makes these key conclusions:
• the health impacts associated with environmental
noise are both acute and chronic in nature;
• in addition to noise-induced hearing loss, there is a growing body of evidence that shows
an association between environmental noise and health impacts including cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment in adults
and children, sleep disturbance, and mental health impacts;
• emerging evidence suggests that exposure to environmental noise could
lead to adverse pulmonary effects, increased mortality from diabetes, and negative impact on behavior in children;
• the health evidence suggests that
older adults and young children may be more at risk;
• lower income populations, who already experience poorer health, are also more likely exposed
to more noise than people with higher income;
• approaches that can be used to reduce exposure to noise include choosing technologies that
are quieter, setting planning requirements, adopting improved building codes, implementing traffic management measures, and
prescribing limits and noise mitigation measures in the noise bylaw;
• results of the noise monitoring and modeling study indicate that noise levels in Toronto are above the
World Health Organization’s limits for both daytime and night-time exposure, and thus likely to contribute to the burden
of illness in the city;
• given the ubiquitous nature of this exposure, a comprehensive approach to noise management in the city will
be required to effectively limit unnecessary exposure to noise and ensure that noise ex-posures do not increase over time;
• given that almost 60 percent of
the noise in Toronto can be attributed to traffic noise, implementing measures to reduce exposure to noise from transportation
sources should be a priority.
“Reducing the exposure of environmental noise to residents is multi-pronged and includes periodic assessment
of the noise environment through monitoring and modeling, policy interventions, and education and engagement of the public,”
according to the report. “Maintaining a quality outdoor noise environment will contribute to better health and well-being.
Not only will such an environment promote a more active lifestyle, which can reduce noise levels from transportation, it will
also contribute to a reduction in the risk of chronic disease.”
The report comes as city officials are reviewing Toronto’s noise bylaw.
It provides detailed coverage of the impacts of environmental noise on health, recommended noise levels, results of noise
monitoring in Toronto, regulation, and mitigation. It makes the following recommendations:
• develop a noise management action plan, in
consultation with appropriate stakeholders;
• request the Ontario Minister of Environment and Climate Change to adopt the World Health
Organization’s recommended noise guidelines of 40 dBA night-time;
• request the Federal Minister of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development
to require garden equipment and other small machinery to be labeled with individual sound ratings.
The full report, How Loud is Too Loud, is available from
Toronto Public Health at:
No unauthorized posting, forwarding, or
any other form of transmission of this material, by any means, in whole or in part, is allowed.