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Even at low doses, traffic noise impacts work performance

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Swedish researchers have just shown that traffic noise – even if it does not exceed 40 decibels – to which many are exposed in the office, has a significant impact on concentration and the quality of work.

In the city, noise pollution is everywhere. Horns, squealing tires or a passing tram… Traffic noise can quickly have an impact on health, especially on the cardiovascular system.

But that’s not all. They can also resonate with our ability to concentrate. To prove this, scientists from the Chalmers University of Technology (Sweden) recruited 42 people and put them through various laboratory tests. They reconstructed a living room with furniture, then installed a speaker system behind the partitions to simulate various sounds, such as the noise of road traffic.

The researchers then put the participants in real working conditions and evaluated their performance. It appears that the subjects performed significantly worse on the performance test with traffic noise in the background. They also felt that the task was more difficult to complete. And no need for an untimely noise to feel the first effects. From 40 decibels (the noise of light traffic behind double glazing), the volunteers encountered difficulties.

How to remedy these noise pollution? That’s the whole difficulty. Because according to the authors, reducing speeds is not a solution because “even at low frequencies it is difficult to eliminate such noise, even with well-insulated windows and buildings that meet building guidelines for sound insulation.

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