Assessment of noise exposure and its characteristics in the intensive care unit of a tertiary hospital

Seungho Jung, Jeongmin Kim, Jiho Lee, Chooljae Rhee, Sungwon Na, Jin Ha Yoon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Noise generated in the intensive care unit (ICU) adversely affects both critically ill patients and medical staff. Recently, several attempts have been made to reduce ICU noise levels, but reliable and effective solutions remain elusive. This study aimed to provide evidence on noise distributions in the ICU to protect patient health. For one week, we measured noise levels in isolated rooms, open units, and nursing stations in medical, surgical, and pediatric ICUs, respectively. We additionally analyzed the noise generated by medical equipment that is frequently used in ICUs. The median (interquartile range) noise exposure level (dBA) of all ICU units was 54.4 dB (51.1–57.5) over 24 h. The highest noise exposure was noted in the surgical ICU’s daytime open unit at 57.6 dB (55.0–61.1). Various ICU medical devices continuously generated low-frequency noise. Mechanical noise levels ranged from a minimum of 41 dB to a maximum of 91 dB. It was also confirmed that patient-monitoring devices generated loud, high-frequency noise at 85 dB. ICU noise levels were much higher than expected. Noise reduction that focuses on behavior modification of medical staff has limited potential; instead, structural improvements should be considered to reduce the transmission of noise.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4670
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Jul

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This study was supported by a faculty research grant of Yonsei University College of Medicine for (6-2018-0091).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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