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Does traffic noise affect work performance?

Photo: OlegAlbinsky/iStockphoto

Gothenburg, Sweden — A relatively low level of noise from outdoor traffic can have cognitive effects on workers inside nearby buildings, according to Swedish researchers.

A team from Chalmers University used a laboratory that had a speaker system that let researchers simulate sounds such as outdoor traffic.

Participants took tests in which letters were displayed and they had to press buttons – all while being subject to various noises. They also completed a subjective assessment of their workload rated in six areas: perceived mental workload, physical workload, time pressure, effort, performance and frustration level.

The researchers found that noise levels as low as 40 decibels affected work performance.

“Near busy roads, it is difficult to achieve good indoor sound environments, even with well-insulated buildings and windows,” a university press release states.

The study was published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

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