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Psychosocial effects of environmental noise

Psychosocial effects of noise include:


Noise disrupts a person’s quality of life, especially when it causes a lot of discomfort. The person can feel many negative emotions due to noise: disappointment, anger, hate, etc. He or she must sometimes alter activities or take certain measures because the noise prevents him or her from proceeding as planned. For example, he or she may have to close windows or increase the TV or radio volume because of the noise. Annoyance due to noise can also prevent a person from reading or resting.

WHO considers the annoyance caused by environmental noise a public health problem.

The effects of noise on learning

In schools, environmental noise is associated with learning problems in students. Noise affects:

  • Reading comprehension
  • Listening capacity
  • Speech understanding
  • Memory

For example, bad acoustics in classrooms interfere with understanding what is being said. The effects of noise on learning are more pronounced in young elementary school children. As a result, a child who is unable to hear some words that the teacher pronounces has more difficulty learning.

In the long term, noise from inside and outside the classroom, including the one caused by transportation, can affect a children’s academic performance.

Possible effects of noise include:

  • Attention problems
  • Difficulty differentiating sounds
  • Difficulty understanding what is being said
  • Loss of motivation to learn
  • Impaired memory, especially for complex tasks requiring understanding
  • Reading difficulty equal to a delay of two months in learning to read
  • Poorer results in maths

For further information

If you have questions regarding hearing problems (permanent or temporary hearing loss and tinnitus) which you think are due to exposure to noise, call Info-Santé 811.

Last update: June 16, 2022


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