Comment: Treat neighbor noise as a public health problem

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The challenge then is how to prove that the noise is “unreasonable and substantial” disrupting home life or “harmful to health”. A 2016/2017 study in the UK found that nearly 280,000 legal complaints about nuisance were noise-related in one year, but less than 3 percent resulted in action to reduce them.

Complaints about noise above the permitted level, but not legally a nuisance, can also lead to warnings at night. But the quality and quantity of nighttime noise enforcement varies considerably.

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The UK’s broader noise policy aims to minimize noise “as far as is reasonably practical”, using aids such as traffic mitigation measures and even rubber container lids. Organisations, such as the Noise Abatement Society and the UK Noise Association, and media outlets actively disseminate information about the health effects of noise.

The Netherlands monitors the percentage of residents who are greatly inconvenienced by traffic noise and aims to keep this percentage stable by means of a legal framework and guidelines.

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MAKE NOISE CONTROL POLICY ROBUST

To make efforts to improve environmental health and make noise control policies (including neighbor noise) more robust in Singapore, another of our studies, published in the Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, proposed four pillars.

Please provide information first. Accurate information about the health effects of noise pollution and clear information about unacceptable noise pollution and good community standards will help reduce noise disputes.

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