Campaign against the Faldingworth explosions nuisance

Notes on noise stress (by a consultant clinical psychologist)

Minimizing Noise Stress:

Noise can cause intense stress, particularly unpredictable sudden-onset noise.

Reliable research has been carried out showing that excessive, intermittent or unpredictable noise can raise people’s blood pressure, and reduce people’s performance at complex tasks. It can cause tetchiness, tension and headaches, in addition to a loss of concentration. It can also damage a team’s work, as people in a noisy environment tend to become more irritable and less willing to help one-another out.

High levels of background noise can severely impair your ability to concentrate. In an open plan office, the sound of people talking casually, of office machinery, or of meetings going on, can undermine the quality of work done. Ringing telephones disturb not only the person to whom the call is directed, but also other people in the same area.

NB: In a home environment, unwanted noise can be even more stressful and irritating as it intrudes on private space.

Some effects of exposure to high-decibel intermittent noise:

Psychological – concentration and performance, mood (anxiety, low mood, irritability)

Physiological – increase in adrenaline, cortisol – known to interfere with digestion, wound healing, immune function, blood pressure and other cardiovascular functions

Here is a professional book with particular reference to military noise:

B.M. Saxton*, J.M. Ross, A. Braczyk, G.E. Conway, J.L. Szalma, and P.A. Hancock
University of Central Florida
Orlando, Florida, 32816

ABSTRACT: Aperiodic noise, also known as intermittent noise, is a pervasive and influential source of stress across military environments, and can be defined by the changes in its intensity over a given period of time (therefore containing ‘gaps’ between louder phases of the noise). With examples ranging from the discharge of weapons to vehicle and machinery movements, then it is intuitive to recognize that this common form of noise may constitute a risk to Soldier performance across a range of tasks (i.e., as measured by speed and accuracy metrics). In order to quantify these effects, a meta-analytic evaluation of aperiodic noise effects on performance was undertaken. The results indicate that a general effect of aperiodic noise is to exert a negative influence on performance; however this effect is contingent upon the type of tasks and performance measures used. These results can be used to inform decisions concerning when noise should be mitigated or even alternatively exploited in military settings.

There are many human and animal studies, eg:

Norman L. Carter, Helen C. Beh (1989)
The Effect of Intermittent Noise on Cardiovascular Functioning During Vigilance Task Performance
Psychophysiology 26 (5), 548–559.

Latent inhibition is attenuated by noise and partially restored by a 5-HT2A receptor antagonist.
Short Reports
Behavioural Pharmacology. 13(8):663-667, December 2002.
McDonald, L.M. a *; Moran, P.M. a +; Vythelingum, G.N. a; Joseph, M.H. a +; Stephenson, J.D. b; Gray, J.A. a

Acute and long term effects of chronic intermittent noise stress on hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical and sympatho-adrenomedullary axis in pigs.
Personal Authors: Otten, W., Kanitz, E., Puppe, B., Tuchscherer, M., Brüssow, K. P., Nürnberg, G., Stabenow, B.
Author Affiliation: Research Unit Behavioural Physiology, Research Institute for the Biology of Farm Animals, 18196 Dummerstorf, Germany.
Editors: No editors
Document Title: Animal Science, 2004 (Vol. 78) (No. 2) 271-283