Most Western European residents live in permanent noise. Appropriate building acoustics allow escape from it at homes or at work


Studies show that due to road noise, the average resident of Warsaw loses one day of their healthy life. In large cities, noise never softens at night, there is no escape from it even at home. It can cause health problems – including cardiovascular diseases or increased stress levels. “To ensure acoustic comfort, we must learn how to design buildings,” insists Henryk Kwapisz, an expert from the “Comfort of Silence” Association.

“When we close our eyes, we turn off our vision. We cannot turn off our hearing, we are designed this way, and that is why sound is very important to us. We should learn to manage sound, not limit it. Excessive noise causes many adverse things for us, it affects our health, our well-being.” Henryk Kwapisz emphasizes in a conversation with the Newseria Biznes agency.

Noise below 35 dB, although it can impede concentration, is not harmful to humans. Slightly higher, from 35 dB to 70 dB, it adversely affects the nervous system, while constant exposure to continuous noise of 70-85 dB causes permanent hearing loss, headaches and nervous disorder. Noise intensity from 85 to 130 dB already interferes with the functioning of the circulatory and nervous systems. For example, street traffic generates about 80-90 dB. The effects are visible – as WHO reports, due to road noise, residents of Western Europe lose a total of over 1 million years of healthy life.

“Noise has a huge impact on our health. There are studies that state that the average Warsaw resident loses one day of their healthy life due to excessive road noise. Other studies confirm that noise affects our irritation, sleeplessness, heart disease, so we must learn to limit this noise and strive for acoustic comfort,” the expert explains.

In a report on diseases caused by environmental noise, WHO states that long-term or excessive noise results in health problems such as cardiovascular diseases. It can raise blood sugar and cholesterol levels, cause hormonal disorders, lead to neurosis or mental illnesses.

“Noise reaches us from many different sources: road, aviation or sports noise. In the buildings themselves, noise has a different impact on us, because for example we don’t want to hear a neighbor’s loudly barking dog or a loud party. Therefore, noise affects our daily life. Learning to live with it is impossible, we need to learn how to design buildings so that its impact on us is as small as possible,” insists Henryk Kwapisz.

Inside various buildings, people spend up to 90% of their life. The Association for Better Acoustics in Buildings “Comfort of Silence” states that the construction, finishing and equipment of the building significantly affect the noise level. Appropriate technical solutions allow for sound insulation of ceilings or walls. Thanks to this, interiors can be cut off from external noise sources to the extent that it is not audible during their normal use.

“First of all, we need to plan how and where to build a building, where to locate it in order to manage the sound, so it’s not too loud, so we understand each other well, so there is not too much noise from the neighbor. Then we need to think about how to design the place where we stay, for example in a hotel or in a classroom. And after we plan these rooms well, we need to know what materials to use,” lists the expert from the “Comfort of Silence” Association.

Proper acoustics is important not only in homes or places of rest. The acoustic quality of offices or schools is equally crucial. A University of Berkeley study indicates that, for example, solving logic tasks requiring concentration is significantly difficult with noise at 55-70 dB. Other studies showed a positive relationship between the physical features of the work environment (temperature, lighting, acoustics) and job satisfaction and well-being of employees. However, awareness of the impact of the sounds around us on physical and mental health is still small.

“You can learn a lot about noise and acoustics from our website,, especially from the series of interviews “Quarter with Acoustics”. These are interviews with architects, doctors, lawyers who talk about how to design, how to take care of so that noise does not disturb us in everyday life,” encourages Henryk Kwapisz.

The “Comfort of Silence” Association has been drawing attention to the importance of the acoustic quality of residential and public utility buildings since 2016. 15-minute interviews with experts in various fields show the impact of building acoustics on sleep quality, interpersonal relationships, productivity and health. The experiences and reflections of the speakers related to noise and sound are intended to inspire improved acoustics in buildings.