For several decades, there has been a significant need to better educate the public about noise pollution. A small number of small-scale studies have focused on the sound levels of restaurants and their impact on health and hearing. There have also been an increasing number of media articles stating that eating and drinking venues are getting increasingly loud making it more difficult for people to connect with others in conversation. This study reports on an exploratory large-scale noise survey of sound levels of 2376 restaurants and bars in New York City using a novel smart-phone application and categorized them based on how quiet or loud they were. The results suggest that: 1) A significant number of venues have high sound levels that are not conducive to conversation and may be endangering the health of patrons and employees, 2) that the reported sound levels by the venue managers on their online public business pages generally underestimated actual sound levels, and 3) the average sound levels in restaurants and bars are correlated by neighborhood and type of cuisine.
Buckley, C. (2012) Working or Playing Indoors, New Yorkers Face an Unabated Roar. The New York Times, 19 July 2012. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/20/nyregion/in-new-york-city-indoor-noise-goes-unabated.html?pagewanted=all&_r=3&
Bauer, M. (2013) A New Crop of Noisy Restaurants Threaten to Break the Sound Barrier. SFGate, 28 August 2013. http://insidescoopsf.sfgate.com/blog/2013/08/28/a-new-crop-of-noisy -restaurants-threaten-to-break-the-sound-barrier/
Roncace, K. (2015) Are Philadelphia Restaurants Getting Too Loud? Reports Say Yes. NJ.com, 28 July 2015. http://www.nj.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2015/07/are_philadelphia_restaurants _getting_too_loud_repo.html
Reader Comments (2015) The “Daunting” Din: Readers React to Noisy Restaurants. The New York Times, 9 September 2015. https://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/10/dining/the-daunting-din-readers-react-to-noisy-restaurants.html
Guéguen, N., Jacob, C., Le Guellec, H., Morineau, T. and Lourel, M. (2008) Sound Level of Environmental Music and Drinking Behavior: A Field Experiment with Beer Drinkers. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 32, 1-4. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1530-0277.2008.00764.x
Guéguen, N., Le Guellec, H. and Jacob, C. (2004) Sound Level of Background Music and Consumer Behavior: An Empirical Evaluation. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 99, 34-38. https://doi.org/10.2466/pms.99.1.34-38
Fritschi, L., Brown, L., Kim, R., Schwela, D. and Kephalopoulos, S. (2011) Burden of Disease from Environmental Noise—Quantification of Healthy Life Years Lost in Europe. WHO Regional Office for Europe, Copenhagen.
Ohrstrom, E., Skanberg, A., Svensson, H. and Gidlof-Gunnarsson, A. (2006) Effects of Road Traffic Noise and the Benefit of Access to Quietness. Journal of Sound and Vibration, 295, 40-59. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsv.2005.11.034
Neitzel, R.L., Gershon, R.R., McAlexander, T.P., Magda, L.A. and Pearson, J.M. (2012) Exposures to Transit and Other Sources of Noise among New York City Residents. Environmental Science & Technology, 46, 500-508. https://doi.org/10.1021/es2025406
Themann, C.L., Suter, A.H. and Stephenson, M.R. (2013) National Research Agenda for the Prevention of Occupational Hearing Loss—Part 1. Seminars in Hearing, 34, 145-207. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0033-1349351
Yu, T.S. and Wong, T.W. (2002) Occupational Noise Exposure and Hearing Impairment among Employees in Chinese Restaurants and the Entertainment Sector in Hong Kong. Hong Kong Health Services Research Committee Report 621016, Hong Kong.
Samagwa, D., Mkoma, S.L. and Tungaraza, C. (2009) Investigation of Noise Pollution in Restaurants in Morogoro Municipality, Tanzania, East Africa. Journal of Applied Sciences and Environmental Management, 13, 29-33.
Kardous, C.A. and Shaw, P.B. (2016) Evaluation of Smartphone Sound Measurement Applications (Apps) Using External Microphones—A Follow-Up Study. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 140, 186-192. https://doi.org/10.1121/1.4964639
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Noise Abatement and Control (1974) Information on Levels of Environmental Noise Requisite to Protect Public Health and Welfare with an Adequate Margin of Safety.
European Agency for Safety and Health at Work. Directive 2003/10/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Minimum Health and Safety Requirements Regarding the Exposure of Workers to the Risks Arising from Physical Agents.
Le Prell, C.G., Hensley, B.N., Campbell, K.C., Hall, J.W. and Guire, K. (2011) Evidence of Hearing Loss in a Normally-Hearing College-Student Population. International Journal of Audiology, 50, S21-S31. https://doi.org/10.3109/14992027.2010.540722