Why do we need to measure environmental noise?

There are a lot of reasons why someone wants to measure environmental noise. For example, to determine if an activity disturbs others in the perspective of noise. Those activities could be transportation (road, railway, airplane, etc.), trades, music concert, industrial activities, and so on. If that activity is considered disturbing, then the one who gets disturbed could ask the one who conduct the activity to take responsibility.

However, whether or not an activity is considered disturbing could be very subjective. The impacted ones might feel that an activity is disturbing, while the ones who do the activity might feel that the activity is still acceptable. To overcome this difference, an objective measure is needed to determine if an activity causes too much noise.

Numbers of institutions has made their own standards for acceptable noise levels, which normally take public health and comfort into consideration. In Indonesia, the noise level limit is standardized by ministry of environment and forestry in KepMen LH No.48 year 1996. In that ministerial decree, noise levels are limited depending on the usage of the area. For example, in residential area, the noise level limit is 55 dBA with 3 dBA tolerance.

Here is the areas and the noise levels that are written in the decree.


  1. Residential area
  2. Trade and Services
  3. Offices
  4. Green open spaces
  5. Industrial area
  6. Government offices and public places
  7. Recreational area
  8. Airport, train station, and harbor
  9. Cultural sites
  10. Hospitals and other health services
  11. School and other educational services
  12. House of worship

Noise level (dBA):

  1. 55
  2. 70
  3. 65
  4. 50
  5. 70
  6. 60
  7. 70
  8. 70
  9. 60
  10. 55
  11. 55
  12. 55

Because of the measured level will be compared with the standard, it is important that the measured value is correct. Therefore, the measuring instrument need to fulfill some standards (it is common to categorize instruments into Class 1, Class 2, etc.) and also well calibrated. Some problems could happen when the instrument is not trustworthy. For example, it is measured 58.5 dBA in residential area, but the measurement instrument doesn’t is not calibrated and therefore is not trustworthy. How could we decide if that activity causes too much noise in that residential area?

This causes a need to have an independent noise consultant that have a well calibrated and standardized instrument in most of noise level measurements.