07/30/2012 06:15 EDT | Updated 07/31/2012 06:31 EDT

Construction Noise And Health: What Is All The Hammering Doing To You?


Think all that banging, pounding and hammering outside your window is only annoying you during the day? Unfortunately, it could be killing you -- not so softly.

With construction projects being carried out in greater numbers than ever in Canada -- with no end in sight -- all the noise surrounding us affects our lives in different ways.

According to a 2011 report by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Commission's Joint Research Centre, "Burden Of Disease From Environmental Noise," the effects of noise can range from such issues as cardiovascular disease to cognitive impairment. Other problems studied included sleep disturbance, tinnitus, and the one we're all familiar with, annoyance.

In fact, these major effects are related -- when sleep is interrupted by noise, it raises levels of stress hormones in the body and in turn, increases strain on the heart, according to a 2007 study in Environmental Health Perspectives.

But what about the noise around you during the day? Anything from the traffic outside to the building going up a block away to your cubicle neighbour's loud phone conversations can cause the same stress-inducing effects and impact productivity. In certain studies, construction noise was even found to negatively affect reproductive efficiency in mice.

Protection can be found by way of headphones playing soothing music (but remember not to blast it), as well as earplugs in more extreme cases. If possible, find a space in your workplace away from ambient noise for at least an hour a day.

Plenty of people have taken to Twitter to express their own frustration with noise levels around them:

So what constitutes a dangerous level of noise (above 85 dBA)? Check out these decibel levels, and protect yourself accordingly:

How Loud Is That?