Putting a price tag on noise

Doing so may help to inform how much economic activity and leisure society is willing to trade off for a certain degree of noise reduction.

Putting a price on noise may help to inform how much economic activity and leisure society is willing to trade off for a certain degree of noise reduction. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
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On average, about 70,000 complaints of excessive noise are made to government agencies annually, with a spike in residential noise-related complaints in recent years. In 2017, it was found that our outdoor daily level of noise exposure exceeded the National Environment Agency’s guidelines by 2.4 decibels, and was close to the World Health Organisation’s threshold of 70 decibels.

The significance of noise damage is well documented. Let’s consider a case when relocation is not an immediate option to avoid a disruptive noise, which is when it cannot be reduced to an acceptable level and victims are unable to adapt to the noise. Under such circumstances, noise can lead to productivity losses due to a decrease in cognitive performance from fatigue and mood disorders. Prolonged exposure to loud sounds may increase not only the risk of hearing loss in the long term, but also the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, in the elderly particularly. Victims of noise mostly suffer its consequences, and this could include loss of income and quality of life due to being physically and mentally unfit for work. They will also have to bear the healthcare costs.

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