Noise Pollution Control


Let's find out what is noise and the steps that the EPD is taking in the monitoring of Barbados' noise levels.

What is Noise?

Noise is often defined as any unwanted sound. And there are many sources of noise e.g. traffic, music, lawn maintenance, industry, and even animals.

What is the EPD Doing to Monitor the Air Quality of Barbados?

Sound pressure levels are measured in decibels (dB). The sound pressure levels provided in the table below give an indication of the noise generated by certain sounds.




Normal breathing


Whispering at five (5) feet


Soft whisper




Normal conversation


Shouting in ear



* dBA - decibels on the A-scale (which is representative of how the human ear perceives sound)

What are the Effects of Noise?

There are various physical effects of noise which can be temporary or permanent. Examples are:

  • Hearing loss which is the most common effect of exposure to high noise levels;
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus) which can be temporary;
  • Increased blood pressure;
  • Increased breathing rate;
  • Increased heart rate;
  • Muscular tension; and
  • Headaches

Other negative effects of noise may include:

  • Sleep disturbance;
  • Absentmindedness;
  • Exhaustion;
  • Frustration;
  • Anxiety; and
  • Aggravation of existing mental illness.

Stress from excessive noise may cause ‘diseases of adaptation’ such as ulcers, asthma, high blood pressure, headaches and colitis. It is difficult for children to understand language in a noisy environment, and this makes it harder for them to learn.

What is the Role of the Environmental Protection Department?

The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) conducts various tasks related to noise such as:

  • Monitoring and regulating environmental noise levels in accordance with national policy;
  • Researching environmental noise issues; and
  • Developing policies to control environmental noise pollution and preparing guidelines for sources aimed at reducing sound levels.
  • Investigating complaints of potential environmental noise pollution;

What Are The Legislation and Standards Used to Manage Environmental Noise Pollution?

There is no noise legislation in Barbados however the Cabinet of Barbados acceded to the Barbados Noise Policy which basically adopted the World Health Organisation Community Noise Guidelines as reference standards. The Guidelines indicate the sound levels which would allow persons to be minimally impacted by noise. Some of these guideline values are shown in the table below.




Daytime: 55

Nighttime: 45


24 hours: 70


24 hours: 70


•          Repeated exposure to noise ABOVE 85 dBA will cause hearing loss over time.

•          Exposure to noise ABOVE 140 dBA can cause damage after just one exposure.

What Can I Do to Reduce Environmental Noise?

You can do the following to reduce the noise levels in Barbados:

  • Be considerate of others;
  • If carrying out construction activities do not operate many noisy pieces of equipment together/ simultaneously. Also, schedule noisy activities during the day;
  • When buying equipment for your home or business, consider the sound levels it will emit. Where possible purchase equipment that emits minimal sound;
  • Apply for the appropriate permits before conducting entertainment activities and follow the conditions of approval;
  • Conduct noise-related activities during the daytime whenever possible;
  • Ensure that your vehicle is in good working order;
  • Contact your neighbours when carrying out noisy activities such as a party at your house or construction work around the house.