NOISE pollution in schools makes it harder for kids to concentrate, shows a study in Barcelona, Spain.
Researchers recorded noise pollution levels from nearby traffic in 38 schools. They used sound level meters to measure the noise in decibels on the street, in school playgrounds and in classrooms.
They also regularly tested 2,680 schoolchildren aged 7-10 on their cognitive skills – that is, seeing how well the kids thought and figured things out.
Specifically, researchers looked at attention spans (how long someone focuses on something for) and working memories (small amounts of information we hold in our brain for a short time to do certain tasks).
They found that kids in schools with higher levels of noise pollution had worse cognitive abilities. For instance, when noise levels outside were just five decibels above average, children’s working memory was found to be 11.4% slower, while attention spans reduced by 4%.
Interestingly, the study found that noise peaks (short, loud noises such as a car horn) affected kids more than a loud but continuous noise.
That’s important because, right now, most rules that are put in place to reduce noise pollution are based on average decibels, and this study shows that doesn’t give the full picture.
The researchers hope their study, which was published in PLOS Medicine, will help give a clearer idea of the issues that need to be tackled to ensure lower noise levels around schools. Busy cities like London and Paris have made steps already to reduce noise pollution near schools.
Picture credit: iStock