Advisory on a Québec Policy to Fight Environmental Noise: Towards Healthy Sound Environments

  • Environmental noise, defined as noise emitted from all sources excluding those in the workplace, is pervasive and constitutes a risk to health and quality of life.

  • The review of the scientific literature shows that noise is a public health issue that can have multiple consequences, both physical and psychosocial. Environmental noise can be a source of sleep disturbance, interference with the ability to learn at school, cardiovascular disease, annoyance (discomfort, disturbance), hearing loss and tinnitus.

  • Environmental noise is a source of complaints and lawsuits, which are indicative of social acceptance issues. Public reactions attest to diverging interests in society, particularly with regard to the model and overall vision of land development and the need for tranquillity.

  • According to a conservative estimate, the societal costs associated with the effects of environmental noise amount to some $680 million per year in Québec.

  • For the first time, an analysis of various data has led to the estimate that in 2014 at least 640,000 people aged 15 or older had been exposed to environmental noise levels likely to lead to major disturbances caused by any of the individual sources of environmental outdoor noise. Effective and promising preventive measures have been identified to tackle the problem at its source.

  • In Québec, at least 10 departments and 11 organizations share responsibilities in the matter. Prevention and a significant reduction of the effects of noise could be achieved through a public policy that would involve all sectors and levels of decision making.

  • These findings were made under the terms of an advisory requested by the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux du Québec in order to better prevent the adverse effects associated with this health risk factor.

Richard Martin
M.A., conseiller scientifique, Institut national de santé publique du Québec
Pierre Deshaies
M.D., Institut national de santé publique du Québec
Maurice Poulin
Institut national de santé publique du Québec
Types of Publication
Santecom Number
Date de publication