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Health and Safety, Insulation

Why We Need a Quiet Revolution


The events of recent months have put health and wellbeing at the heart of everything we do and completely reshaped our lives. We’ve gone from noisy, bustling cities to deserted cities and noisy home offices. At home, we have quickly realized how challenging it is to do any type of work when there’s a lot of distracting noise. We've been reminded of an often-forgotten lesson: Silence is golden. And, more importantly, it’s good for our health.

Firecrackers, rock concerts, lawnmowers, sirens— all of these noises add up and can have a negative impact on our health, far and above our hearing. The World Health Organization (WHO) says that excessive noise seriously damages health, including:

  • Disturbed sleep
  • Increased stress
  • Decreased performance at school or work
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease

A perfect storm of acoustic discomfort

During the stay at home orders many of us have experienced, we’ve grown to appreciate a new era of unexpected silence outside our homes and learned the importance of good acoustics at home.

Under normal conditions most of us leave our homes during the day. Now as we are taking conference calls and preparing presentations, we are aware of our neighbors and their noise, and others in our household who are working, playing and attending school. More time at home has also accentuated our awareness of building noise, such as washing machines, air-conditioning units and appliances. This has become a perfect storm in terms of acoustic discomfort.

On the flipside, there has been the impact of a quiet urban environment with streets becoming quieter than ever. Prior to the pandemic, the noise levels In New York City averaged between 70 and 85 decibels, while in Los Angeles, restaurants averaged between 80 and 90 decibels— three times more than the 30 decibels that can disturb sleep or learning. The dramatic reduction in ambient noise, from construction work, heavy traffic, flights, restaurants and bars, has been so striking that some acoustics specialists have reported bird song is clearer than ever. The environmental benefits of the lockdown in terms of reduced air and water pollution has been well documented. We can’t forget about the benefits from a reduction in noise pollution.

How Knauf Insulation can help improve acoustic health

During pre-pandemic times, noise pollution affected every aspect of our lives. While in schools, noisy classrooms impaired the ability to learn; in offices it’s impossible to concentrate if a noisy shredder is next to a workstation; in hotels, noise pollution impacted guest experiences; and no one enjoyed a restaurant that was too loud to have a conversation.

As we continue to spend more time indoors working and attending school, let us apply the lessons we have learned during the pandemic and fully embrace the fact that quiet is good for our health and wellbeing. To create quieter spaces, many building professionals choose fiberglass insulation to effectively decrease the transfer of sound in residential, commercial and industrial buildings. Adding sound control insulation in walls between rooms and in overhead spaces between floors, adding duct wrap around metal HVAC duct work and pipe wrap around exposed plumbing pipes can help reduce unwanted noise transfer. If your windows or doors are loose and rattling, the vibration may actually be increasing the sound waves. Air sealing these areas can help reduce the amount of vibration.

It's more important than ever that acoustic well-being be factored into every aspect of our built environments as it improves health, helps us be more productive and ultimately makes us feel better.