Noise, Light & Vibration

The noise, light, and vibration from truck traffic, drilling, well pumps, compressors, and other shale gas operations can be disturbing to those living nearby. While the majority of noise from a drilling site occurs during the first 50-100 days, a person living in close proximity to a shale gas development (SGD) well site, compressor station, gas plant, or other facility may experience the effects of noise pollution for many years to come.

How Noise, Light & Vibration Affect You

Research shows that continuous exposure to unnatural noise and light can cause a variety of health problems, including:

  • Headache

  • High blood pressure

  • Increased stress and anxiety

  • Hearing impairment

  • Sleep disturbances

What You Can Do

While there is little that can be done to reduce exposure to vibration, you can take steps to reduce noise and light:

  • Use earplugs or sound-blocking headphones around the house

  • Use light-blocking window shades

  • Wear eyeshades or a mask when sleeping

  • Temporarily rearrange your home so you can sleep in a different space

  • Try to avoid dependence on sleeping pills, alcohol, or other medications

  • Contact EHP for help.

Measuring Noise Pollution

According to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines, acceptable noise levels are based on the use of the area in question. For example:

  • 45 decibels is associated with indoor residential areas, hospitals and schools

  • 55 decibels is identified for certain outdoor areas where human activity takes place

  • 70 decibels is identified for all areas in order to prevent hearing loss 

Though the EPA and other bodies like the World Health Organization (WHO) suggest noise guidelines, they do not have any regulatory authority to enforce noise pollution problems. Instead, noise control is regulated by state and local governments. Consult with your local health or environmental regulatory agency for more information.

One easy way to monitor noise levels from shale gas development is to use a sound measurement app on your smartphone. EHP recommends SoundMeter+, which is available for iPhones. (For best results, select “A” for waiting on the lower left of screen and “slow response” on the lower right hand screen.) Sound monitoring apps are also available for other types of devices but have not been as rigorously tested. Read a review of sound monitoring apps here.