Noise Pollution Certificate

When do I need a noise pollution certificate


Any applicant needs a Noise pollution certificate when that person applied for an entertainment licence, when your restaurant is located next to any residential property. In some occasions you need to provide a proper noise impact assessment to be presented to the council or in any relative hearing regarding solving noise related or complaints to the liquor Authority in any hearing.

The City of Cape Town's Environmental Health Section implements a Noise Control Program that is designed to regulate, measure and manage disturbing noise aspects that occur or may have the potential to occur in all residential, commercial and industrial areas of the City of Cape Town.
The services rendered by this program extends to the following:-
• Requesting and evaluation of Noise Management Plans.
• Requesting and evaluation of Noise Assessment Reports.
• Evaluation and approval of Noise Exemption Applications for special and planned events.
• Evaluates Environmental Impact Assessments and scrutinises building plans in terms of the potential noise impact. As a preventative measure certain design conditions may be imposed in order to minimise the impact of the potential source of noise.
• Investigate noise complaints & concerns relating to disturbing noise aspects.
• Conduct independent Noise Measurements.
This service does not include the investigation and monitoring of noise complaints regarding "Barking Dogs", which is to be referred to the City of Cape Town's Law Enforcement section.

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Definition of Noise

Noise can be defined as "unwanted sound", and an audible acoustic energy that adversely affects the physiological and/or psychological well-being of people, or which disturbs or impairs the convenience or peace of any person. We can generalize by saying that sound becomes unwanted when it:-
• Hinders speech communication.
• Impedes the thinking process.
• Interferes with concentration.
• Obstructs activities (work or leisure).
• Presents a health risk due to hearing damage.
It is important to remember that whether a given sound is "noise" depends on the listener or hearer. The driver playing loud rock music on their car radio hears no noise, but the person in the traffic behind them hears nothing but noise.

Disturbing Noise

Means a noise level that exceeds the ambient sound level measured continuously at the same measuring point by 7 dBA or more.
Ambient sound level means the reading on an integrating impulse sound level meter taken in the absence of any alleged disturbing noise….
Noise level means the reading… taken at a measuring point in the presence of any alleged disturbing noise at the end of a total period of at least ten minutes after such meter was put into operation, and, if the alleged disturbing noise has a discernable pitch, for example, a whistle, buzz, drone or music, to which 5 dBA is added.

Noise Nuisance

Means any sound, which disturbs or impairs or may disturb or impair the convenience or peace of any person.
(SABS 0103) ambient noise:- The totally encompassing sound in a given time, and usually composed of sound from many sources, both near and far.
(SABS 0103) residual noise:- The ambient noise that remains at a given position in a given situation when one or more specific noises are suppressed. Specific noise:- A component of the ambient noise which can be specifically identified by acoustical means and which may be associated with a specific source.

Noise and it's Impact on Health

The recognition of the noise as a serious health hazard as opposed to a nuisance is a recent development and the health effects of the hazardous noise exposure are now considered to be an increasingly important environmental health problem.
Problems related to noise include hearing loss, stress, interference with communication, sleep loss, effects on performance and behavior, inability to enjoy one’s property or leisure time, and a general reduction in the quality of life and opportunities for tranquility.
Hearing Impairment and Loss
For most people, a life time’s continuous exposure to an environmental average noise level of 70 dB will not cause hearing impairment, but any continuous level above 70 dB will adversely affect one’s hearing ability. An adult persons ear can tolerate an occasional noise level of up to 140 dB, but this is not recommended over a prolonged time period. Noise induced hearing impairment is the most common irreversible (and preventable) occupational hazard worldwide.
Interference with Communication
Noise can mask important sounds and disrupt communication between individuals in a variety of settings. This process can cause anything from a slight irritation to a serious safety hazard involving an accident or even a fatality because of the failure to hear the warning sounds of imminent danger. Noise can disrupt face-to-face conversation, the enjoyment of radio and television in the home. It can also disrupt effective communication between teachers and pupils in schools, and can cause vocal strain and fatigue in those who need to communicate in spite of the noise. Noise also disturbs relaxation time and masks speech, television and music.

Loss of Sleep

Noise is one of the most common forms of sleep disturbance, and sleep disturbance is a critical component of noise related annoyance. Noise can cause the sleeper to awaken repeatedly and to report poor sleep quality the next day, but noise can also produce reactions of which the individual is unaware. These reactions include changes from heavier to lighter stages of sleep, increases in body movements during the night, changes in heart rate, and mood changes and this all leads to a diminished work performance or productivity.
Effects on Performance and Behaviour
Impulsive or sudden loud sounds can produce a startle response that one does not completely grow accustomed to with repeated, predictable exposures. Simple tasks remain unaffected at noise levels as high as 115dB, while more complex tasks are interrupted at much lower noise levels. Frequency and tempo of noise also play a role. High frequency sound is more disruptive than low frequency sound, and intermittent noise can affect performance more adversely than continuous noise of similar energy. It seems that noise can have an even greater effect on the individual after than during exposure. The most common after effect appearing is the reduced tolerance for frustration and the reduction in willingness to persist in trying to solve complex problems.
Noise has a significant impact on the quality of life, and is a health problem in accordance with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) definition of health. WHO’s definition of health includes total physical and mental well being, as well as the absence of disease. Therefore, noise must be recognized as a major threat to human well being. The effects of noise are seldom catastrophic, and are often only temporary, but adverse effects can be cumulative with prolonged exposure. There is also some evidence that it can adversely affect general health in the same manner as stress. More often than not, noise is a nuisance or an annoyance.

Noise Prevention

Noise can be controlled during one of the following stages or combination of stages: -
• Control at source
• Control in the transmission path
• Control at the receiver
• Legislation
Other control methods: -


Zoning ensures the correct siting of factories, industries and residential areas to reduce noise pollution to the minimum.
Noise barriers
Noise buffers in the form of sand, covered with grass, may be considered as a means of protecting communities from unacceptable noise levels. These barriers need to be large enough to make them effective.
Transportation control
Noise pollution from aircraft is controlled through the zoning of airfields away from residential areas.
Road noise can be controlled by setting maximum noise levels for each class of motor vehicle, and through information such as traffic flow, speed, light/heavy traffic mix, etc.


Communities should be educated on the negative effect of noise on their physical, mental and social life.
Before development projects commence, potential sources of noise pollution associated with the project should be identified and discussed with the community.
Legislation should for the effective prevention of noise from the various sources of noise pollution.
Legislation providing for noise control includes:-
• Environment Conservation Act, which provides noise regulations.
• Road Traffic Act controlling noise levels related to road traffic.
• The Aviation Act to prevent nuisance in relation to air navigation or aircraft related issues.
• Occupational Safety Act which ensures the safety of persons in the workplace.

Town Planning

Proper town planning will ensure that impact assessments for noise are carried out before any development projects are undertaken.
Time limit to control noise
Bylaws make provision for limiting noise emanating from events such as parties, e.g.. By setting specific time limits when the noise must cease.
What You can do to Minimise Noise
As a community member, you can do your bit to prevent noise in your neighbourhood by following the following guidelines:-
• Keep the level of hifi’s; TV’s, radio’s and tape players at a level where they cannot be heard from the street, and always keep the bass level turned as low as possible.
• Avoid hosting “home parties”, it is difficult to get guest to cooperate when they have been drinking, rather hire a hall or restaurant.
• Don’t hoot when meeting or leaving family or friends, and don’t slam car doors or rev engines at night.
• Don’t leave dogs alone for long periods; rather have a friend or neighbour check on them.
• Don’t let your dogs bark. If they do, attend to the cause immediately, and keep them inside at night.
• Don’t carry out DIY jobs after 21H00 or before 10H00 on weekends, and if possible never on Sundays.
• Ensure that there is another “key holder” for car and home alarms.
• Make sure that your swimming pool pump and other home equipment is operating silently or acoustically confine the noise.
• Keep noise levels down after 23H00 and before 07H00.

Measuring Noise

The instrument for measuring noise is the basic sound level meter or the integrated sound level meter. Sound meters are designed to measure sounds that the human ear would detect. The ear does not hear very high or low frequencies as well as it can hear middle frequency sounds. Sound meters use special filters to mimic the ear’s performance.
The sound level meter

This device performs three basic operations: -
• First, it uses a microphone to convert the energy in the sound into an electrical signal. When a sound wave hits the microphone, it causes a diaphragm.
• To vibrate, thereby producing electronic signals, which are proportional to the sound pressure causing the vibration.
• Thirdly, this electronic network then conditions the signal to provide meaningful results transmitted through a visual display.
Rule of thumb when measuring noise levels
• The noise source being measured should be at least 10 dB above the background (ambient) noise.
• Keep the sound level meter as far away from any large reflecting surfaces as you are from the source that you are measuring.
• All measurements are to be made with the microphone at least 3 feet above the ground.
Under the decibel scale, when the sound level increases by 3 dB, the actual sound energy doubles. This means that half of the sound energy must be eliminated to reduce the sound level by 3 dB. Most people would barely notice a 3 dB change, but a 6 dB change would be clearly noticeable, while a 10 dB increase would be perceived by the ear as double the loudness.
The difference between the ear's perception and the amount of sound energy actually produced is critically important. It means that 90% of a given sound energy must be eliminated before most people will judge a sound half as loud.