Sources of Noise Pollution

Last updated on Aug 24, 2022

Noise pollution is largely a by-product of industrialisation, urbanisation and modern civilisation. Noise pollution has two sources1 i.e. industrial and non-industrial.

  • The industrial source includes the noise from various industries and big machines working at a very high speed and high noise intensity.

  • Non-industrial source of noise includes the noise created by transport/vehicular traffic and the neighbourhood noise generated by various noise pollutants can also be divided into categories, namely, natural and man-made.

Most leading noise sources are:2

Road Traffic Noise

Noise from the motors and exhaust systems of large trucks are common sources of noise pollution. For instance, the interaction of tyres with the roadway by trucks, buses, and private autos cause noise pollution. In cities, the main sources of traffic noise are the motors and exhaust systems of autos, smaller trucks, buses, and motorcycles. Read more on noise from vehicles here.

Noise from Aircraft

Aircraft are a major source of noise pollution and the law prescribes noise limits on airports depending on the aircraft movement and the area where the aircraft is situated, i.e industrial area or commercial area.

Noise from Railroads

The noise from locomotive engines, horns and whistles, and switching and shunting operations in rail yards are sources of noise pollution. For example, rail car retarders which is a device that reduces the speed of a freight unit or a railway coach, can produce a high-frequency that can reach peak levels of 120 dB at a distance of 100 feet.

Construction Noise

The noise from the construction of highways, city streets, and buildings is a major contributor to the noise and air pollution in cities. For example, construction noise sources include:

  • Air Hammers

  • Air compressors

  • Bulldozers

  • Loaders and

  • Dump trucks

Noise from Industrial Activity

Fans, motors, and compressors mounted on the outside of industrial buildings may disturb people living near noisy manufacturing plants. Above all, noise from machines and industries have a significant impact on industrial workers, among whom noise-induced hearing loss is unfortunately common.

Noise in Buildings

Internal building noise from plumbing, boilers, generators, air conditioners, and fans, can be audible and annoying. Improperly insulated walls and ceilings can reveal the sound of amplified music, voices, footfalls, and noisy activities from neighbours. External noise from emergency vehicles, traffic, refuse collection, and other city noises can be a problem for urban residents. Especially when the windows are open.

Noise from Consumer Products

Certain household equipment, for instance, vacuum cleaners and some kitchen appliances are common sources of noise noisemakers, although their contribution to the daily noise levels is usually not very large.


Indian festivals like Diwali, marriages, etc. use fireworks during celebrations.

However, bursting firecrackers is a health hazard since it is responsible for both air pollution and noise pollution. The noise created is hazardous, can lead sometimes to non-recoverable hearing loss.

  1.  Noise Pollution (V), In re, (2005) 5 SCC 733. []
  2. Noise Pollution (V), In re, (2005) 5 SCC 733. []

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Related Resources

What is Noise Pollution?

Noise is common in everyday life, but when it goes above a certain limit, it is considered to be pollution as well as a public nuisance.

Effects of Noise Pollution

Noise can disturb our work, rest, sleep, and communication. It can damage hearing and evoke other psychological, and pathological reactions.

What are the offences and punishments under air pollution laws?

The offences include releasing of harmful pollutants  into the environment, violation of Pollution Under Control Certificate, etc. 

What are the sources and effects of air pollution?

Air pollution is associated with many sectors, which include power, transport, industry, residential, construction, and agriculture.

Punishment for Noise Pollution

Causing noise pollution can lead to public nuisance and environmental pollution for which you can be punished.

Who are the authorities under the air pollution laws?

The Central Pollution Control Board and the State Pollution Control Boards have been set up under the law to monitor air pollution in India.