Salford part of £1bn Doctoral training investment to help solve noise pollution

Categories: Research, School of Science, Engineering and Environment

The problem of noise pollution will be tackled thanks to unprecedented funding to study the issue.

University of Salford’s acoustics research centre has been awarded funding to take a unique look at how we can create a more healthy and less noisy environment.

The 2023 House of Lord's Science and Technology Committee report called noise a "neglected pollutant" and recommended more research to reduce harms.

Salford is part of the UK’s biggest-ever investment in engineering and physical sciences doctoral skills with investment totalling more than £1 billion announced by Science, Innovation and Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan today. The 65 Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) will support leading research in areas of national importance including the critical technologies AI, quantum technologies, semiconductors, telecoms and engineering biology.

Salford is leading the CDT in Sustainable Sound Futures, which is a collaboration with the Universities of Sheffield, Bristol and Southampton, and over 50 project partners from industry. Funding for the project will total around £19m.

Noise is a health problem for one in five of us. Noise from cars, planes, industry, construction, neighbours and many other sources, create chronic stress, annoyance, sleep disturbance and heart disease. Noise also increases mortality in marine and terrestrial wildlife. Take traffic noise as one example. This costs £7-£10 billion annually, which is as much as road accidents cost. There are health costs to the NHS, plus worse attainment in schools and reduced productivity at work.

The research will aim to find ways to create quieter products and buildings, and better noise regulations and standards, aimed at reducing harm from noise.

Professor Trevor Cox, of the University of Salford, who will lead the project, said: “Earth is a Noisy Planet. Human activity means that from megacities to oceans, most places are infected with noise and tranquility is disappearing. We have no “ear-lids”, and so our brains are constantly dealing with unwanted noise, which creates stress.

“The CDT will go beyond noise control to research how to engineer positive sounds. From using sound to improve the accessibility of products, through to enhancing cultural events that boost well-being, there are many ways of creating a better sonic future.”

The CDT focuses on the user need of businesses, society and government to create a more sustainable sound future.

Science and Technology Secretary, Michelle Donelan, said: “As innovators across the world break new ground faster than ever, it is vital that government, business and academia invests in ambitious UK talent, giving them the tools to pioneer new discoveries that benefit all our lives while creating new jobs and growing the economy.

“By targeting critical technologies including artificial intelligence and future telecoms, we are supporting world class universities across the UK to build the skills base we need to unleash the potential of future tech and maintain our country’s reputation as a hub of cutting-edge research and development.”

For all press office enquiries please email communications@salford.ac.uk.