Public health implications of environmental noise associated with unconventional oil and gas development

December 9, 2016
Jake Hays, Michael McCawley, Seth B.C. Shonkoff


Modern oil and gas development frequently occurs in close proximity to human populations and increased levels of ambient noise have been documented throughout some phases of development. Numerous studies have evaluated air and water quality degradation and human exposure pathways, but few have evaluated potential health risks and impacts from environmental noise exposure. We reviewed the scientific literature on environmental noise exposure to determine the potential concerns, if any, that noise from oil and gas development activities present to public health. Data on noise levels associated with oil and gas development are limited, but measurements can be evaluated amidst the large body of epidemiology assessing the non-auditory effects of environmental noise exposure and established public health guidelines for community noise. There are a large number of noise dependent and subjective factors that make the determination of a dose response relationship between noise and health outcomes difficult. However, the literature indicates that oil and gas activities produce noise at levels that may increase the risk of adverse health outcomes, including annoyance, sleep disturbance, and cardiovascular disease. More studies that investigate the relationships between noise exposure and human health risks from unconventional oil and gas development are warranted. Finally, policies and mitigation techniques that limit human exposure to noise from oil and gas operations should be considered to reduce health risks.

Our study is available here, and our press release is availble here. A full version of our study will be available on our website soon.

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