The Sound of Noise
Have you ever felt an unexplained headache, walking down the streets?
According to scientists, it can be caused by noise.

The world is a loud place.
Especially cities, where urban regions are characterized by constant clash.
Still, there is little awareness of acoustic pollution as a public health risk.

Considering it, we discovered the complexity of the problem.
Noise is a sound and it is known to be mostly unwanted one.
While sound, for example, loud music during the concert,
can provoke positive reaction.

So is the difference in subjective perception only?

More than one hundred years ago Italian futurist painter Luigi Russolo wrote a manifesto "The Art of Noises". He proposed that human ear has become adapted to the speed, energy and noise of the industrial soundscape. He believed that before the invention of machines in 19th century the world was quiet, if not silent place. But in modern world silence does not exist anymore.

Noise pollution describes a disruptive or dangerous sound that can cause harm to nature and human health. The United States Environmental Protection Agency claims that the fact that one can't see or smell noise, explains why noise pollution has received much less attention from people and environmental organizations, than other types of pollution. However, it still has a harmful effect.


Sound is measured in decibels. But the ratio is logarithmich, which means that for every 10 decibel, you should multiply the power by 10. For example 50 db has a power ratio of 100.000.

A normal conversation on street level has a loudness of 50 db. In comparison, a propeller plane which takes off gives soundwaves at 95db, or a power ratio at more than

In between, a car driving with 70 km/hour is making up to 70db, which is enough to give you minor damage to the ear.


Lviv as well as other big cities of Ukraine remains a noise-polluted region. Once in six years local municipality submits the Complex Ecological Program of Lviv. Such programs for last 12 years proved that acoustic background of Lviv requires attention from active citizens not less, than other issues related to ecology. Hence, we started exploring noisiness of the city. We aim to grab attention to the problem and show how to tackle it on individual level, since it is possible to avoid health-problems in the future by following simple rules. However, project represents only three districts of the city and need to be proceeding.

We visited 3 districts of Lviv: Galytskyy, Zaliznychnyy, Sykhivskyy, which are claimed to be one of the most polluted, when it comes to acoustic ecology. Among different spots we prioritized densely inhabited places and also, predictably silent ones. Measured with an applications db Volume Meter and Sound level meter, in the daytime, here are some results.

In Galytskyy District Stryiskyy Market, Ploshscha Rynok, Stryiskyy Park, Crossroad near the Lviv Theatre of Opera and Ballet (Svobody ave. and Horodotska street)
and Tykha str. were covered.
(1) Lviv Theatre of Opera and Ballet surroundings in average has 59 db, 39 db minimum and 82 db maximum.
(2) Tykha str. reaches 48 db in average, 43 db minimum and 59 db maximum.
(3) Stryiskyy Park is silent, having in average 48 db, minimum is 43 db. Level in tangent to the road parts of the park can reach 56 db.
(4) Ploshscha Rynok which commonly known as a city center, has 50 db in average, 43 db is a minimum, and 80 db is maxdimum.
(5) Stryiskyy Market surroundings in average has 60 decibels, minimum value is 41 db, and maximum – 84 db.
In Sykhivskyy District we measured two-side road near the UCU (Khutorivka, 35a), surroundings near the 4th Communal City Hospital (Chervonoi Kalyny ave., 68), Industrial Zone (Navrotskogo, 4) and on the bridge to Upper Shuvar Market (Chervonoi Kalyny, 35a).
(1) UCU surroundings level reaches 48 db in average, minimum level is 43 db,
and maximum – 59 db.
(2) 4th Communal City Hospital, which is supposed to be a quiet place for patients to rest, has 51 db in average, minimum – 40 db and 81 db is a maximum in the moment of transport peak.
(3) Industrial Zone (Navrotskogo, 4) in average reaches 50 db level, minimum is 43 db and maximum is 84 db.
(4) Finally, bridge to Upper Shuvar Market is 59 db in average, 39 db minimum and 82 db maximum.
In Zaliznychnyy District we listened to the noise of a Railway Station, Circle of Horodotska, Zaliznychna, Tobilevicha streets, and Lviv Danyla Halytsky International Airport.
(1) Circle of Horodotska, Zaliznychna, Tobilevicha streets, which is overload with an automobile transport, reaches 56 db in average, minimum value is 44 db, maximum – 75 db.
(2) Lviv Danyla Halytsky International Airport when a plane in transit reaches 63 db in average, minimum level is 53 db, when plain lands level surpasses 80 db. It is important to mention, that we weren't able to reach closely to planes, where according to previous findings level can reach 100 db. Despite the fact, that it is unbearable noise for everyday living, area near the airport has inhabitants.
(3) Railway Station in average has 56 db, minimum level is 39 db, and the maximum level is 70-80 db, when the trains arrive.

A sound walk is defined as a walk with a focus on listening to the environment. The term was first used by the members of the World Soundscape Project, specifically by a composer R. Murray Schafer, in Vancouver in 1970s.

Hildegard Westerkamp, member of the same group, explains soundwalking as "any excursion whose main purpose is listening to the environment. It is exposing our ears to every sound around us no matter where we are."

During soundwalking, listening is a direct source of information. It encourages to listen deeper and closer so that to fully experience the soundscapes around us. People not only listen to specific sounds, but discover the cultural, ecological, social or even political meaning behind them.

While measuring noise in Lviv, we tried to listen to the sounds of nature that are mixed with urban noise. In this city each place has a number of stories to tell. We have collected these sound narratives and the only thing you have to do is - Listen!


Even not so loud sound can damage our hearing and our auditory system (e.g. non auditory effect: constant music listening). Still auditory effects are not usually connected with environmental sound, because its level is under 80 decibel.

Because of noise pollution, humans experience difficulties in falling asleep, awakening, stress, increased blood pressure, poor quality of sleep, changes in respiration and an increased heart rate. And if the quality of sleep and rest get affected, it leads to decreased performance and fatigue (WHO, 2016).

According to the World Health Organization, one in five Europeans is regularly exposed to dangerous sound levels. The consequences depends on the intensity of the noise (loudness in decibels), frequency and duration.

Apart from human health, noise pollution can significantly affect ecosystems around urban areas. According to Australian Academy of Science, animals are used to natural sounds and use them for communication, but the artificial sound is highly disturbing, and can lead to many problems for their breeding.

Some species may find it difficult to navigate, reproduce or find food in noisy environments. For example, birds are altering their natural behavior or relocating to avoid noisy areas. In terrestrial habitats, bird diversity and abundance has been shown to decline as a result of chronic noise levels around their living area.

Noise pollution can be reduced through regulations on levels of noise that can be produced by humans. In some countries, in Ukraine as well, noise barriers are installed along the places like highways to reduce the amount of noise. But there are ways to reduce noise on a individual basis:

  • Turn off your electronics (TV, computer, games systems) when not using it

  • Lower the volume, especially while using headphones

  • If nighttime noise keeps you awake, use special noisereducing earplugs

  • Go green by planting trees

  • Install a fence around the yard or garden

  • Shut the door while using noisy machines

  • Follow the limits of noise levels
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