Environmental noise, harmful “pollutant”

chaque-microbruit-corps-programme-pour(Quebec) Some 640,000 Quebecers are exposed daily to various noise sources, mainly road traffic, which is not without cause harmful health effects and social costs.

“It was long considered environmental noise as a mere nuisance, then you have to go now as a pollutant, as well as air pollution,” said Dr. Pierre Deshaies Thursday at the Congress planners Quebec held in the capital.

For the specialist affiliated with the National Public Health Institute of Quebec, there is no physiological adaptation plan to protect humans against the incessant noise, a problem recognized by the World Health Organization. Salvation can be found in the leak. “Every microbruit, the body is programmed to have a physiological reaction to stress. There secretion of hormones such as cortisone and adrenaline […]. This led some authors that there is no eye ears, “he shows about our auditory system constantly alert.

This noise exposure, especially for people living along highways, causes harmful effects on the cardiovascular system. Adults chronically exposed to road noise have a higher risk of developing high blood pressure. In addition, the risk of having a myocardial infarction are most significant 8% for each increase of 10 decibels.

Sleep quality also takes a beating. In the long term, people exposed to constant noise can develop insomnia. “Even when we sleep, sleep is disturbed beyond a certain level,” says Dr. Deshaies.

This exposure to noise is not without incurring high social costs for governments. A study in 2013 estimated at some $ 679 million negative impact on health care and work absenteeism, or 0.2% of gross domestic product.

learning affected

His colleague, Richard Martin, scientific advisor to the Institute, came to plead for better urban planning to address noise impacts. Examples avoided, that of a daycare Lévis built on a four-lane boulevard, neighbor addition of a fire station and a police station. Not ideal for napping toddlers …

For Dr. Deshaies, it is also important to consider the impact of noise on learning abilities of children. Experts have noted a rise in blood pressure in young people exposed to high noise levels. Furthermore, a study conducted in England demonstrated playback delays of one to two months in schoolchildren whose establishment is located in an area where noise is important. “We do not know the long-term effects, but it is worrying.”

European countries offer examples of which our planners could learn, continues Martin. In Berlin, the reduction in the speed at 30 km / h in some areas has lowered the noise by five decibels. In Austria, the borders of some highways offer bends inward, which limits the dispersion of the noise. acoustic screens, as exists in Quebec, are also interesting solutions.

Better building design must also be taken into account to reduce the spread and reverberation of the waves, the concave facade buildings to be privileged.


Although the noise legislation proves of great complexity with the involvement of twenty departments and agencies which operate without coordination, the two researchers believe it is possible to change things. In this, the court actions can bring results, like this group of citizens which the Supreme Court upheld his lawsuit against St. Lawrence Cement in 2008.

“Legal remedies are imperfect, long and expensive, but they are necessary,” argues Dr. Deshaies. “Despite the fragmentation and lack of coordination, it is possible to improve and create healthier living environments,” says Richard Martin for his part.

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