UCL News


Press cutting: How a tide of noise is drowning out the quiet life

2 February 2007

Life in Newcastle is 100 times noisier than life in Torquay, according to a noise map of England that warns of a growing health problem.

Academics found street noise in Newcastle measured more than 80 decibels - a level the World Health Organisation lists as "unsuitable for human habitation". …

Professor Deepak Prasher [UCL Ear Institute] drew up the map using traffic noise, which he says has become the number one noise pollutant.

He said: "Some of the places where I took readings, right next to houses, people have to shout to each other to make themselves heard. That environment is loud enough to cause chronic hearing problems - people really should not be living like that."

Prof Prasher said he was even more surprised to see relatively small towns like Doncaster and Gillingham - at numbers four and six in the list - featuring above Manchester and Liverpool. "Even Brighton was only five decibels quieter than London," said Prof Prasher. "It's not the image I had of Brighton - wandering along a quiet seafront. It illustrates that traffic noise in England has spread throughout the country and through the night. There is no escape from it now."

Prof Prasher said he found "pockets of tranquillity", such as a quadrangle in Oxford city centre. However, taking average readings over 20 minutes in each area, he was often shocked at the level of noise. …

Tim Hall, 'The Daily Telegraph'