Sound is what we hear. Noise is an unwanted sound. The difference between sound and noise depends upon the receiver and the circumstances. Rock music can be a pleasurable sound to one person and an annoying noise to another. In either case, it can be hazardous to a person’s hearing if the sound is loud, and if the person is exposed long and often enough.
It is important to note that noise can be continuous, variable, intermittent or impulsive, depending on how it changes over time:
* The continuous noise is the noise that remains constant and stable over a given time period. The noise of boilers in a powerhouse, for example, is relatively constant, and can therefore be classified as continuous.
* Most manufacturing noise is variable or intermittent. Different operations or different noise sources can cause the sound to change over time. Noise is intermittent if there is a mix of relatively quiet and noisy periods.
* Impulse or impact noise is a very short burst of loud noise which lasts for less than one second. Gunfire or the noise produced by punch presses are examples of such noise.
At the Environmental Protection Agency, noise nuisances form the majority of complaints received. Noise is one of the most common occupational health hazards in heavy industrial and manufacturing environments, as well as other operations such as farms, cafeterias, or bars. Permanent hearing loss is the main health concern.
Annoyance, stress, and interference with speech communication are the main concerns in noisy offices, schools and computer rooms. As such, the Agency conducts noise assessments when complaints are received. Officers equipped with noise meters test the limit of the noise that was reported. If the reading recorded is above the normal limit, then the EPA would work with the operator to reduce the noise level.
Let us zero in on our workplaces, because often times we only focus on the noises around our homes and immediate environments.

How can I tell if my workplace is too loud?
If you answer yes to any of the following questions, the workplace may have a noise problem.
? Do people have to raise their voices?
? Do people who work in noisy environments have ringing in their ears at the end of a shift?
? Do they find when they return home from work that they have to increase the volume on their car radio higher than they did when they went to work?
? Does a person who has worked in a noisy workplace for years have problems understanding conversations at parties or restaurants, or in crowds where there are many voices and “competing” noises?
If there is a noise problem in a workplace, then a noise assessment or survey should be undertaken to determine the sources of noise, the amount of noise, who is exposed, and for how long.

What can be done to minimise noise at the workplace?
1. Buy Quiet – select and purchase low-noise tools and machinery;
2. Maintain tools and equipment routinely (such as lubricate gears);
3. Reduce vibration where possible;
4. Isolate the noise source in an insulated room or enclosure; and
5. Place a barrier between the noise source and the employee.



You can share your ideas and questions by sending letters to: “Our Earth, Our Environment”, C/O Communications Department, Environmental Protection Agency, Ganges Street, Sophia, GEORGETOWN, or email us at: [email protected], follow us on Facebook and Instagram, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.