Noise is a pollutant. While its physical and emotional effects are difficult to define quantitatively, the noise level itself can be measured.
Sound. An alteration of pressure that propagates through an elastic medium such as air and produces an auditory sensation.
Noise. Any undesired sound.
Common noises are shown in the following chart:
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is empowered to enforce state noise rules (Minn. Rules Ch. 7030). Minnesota’s primary noise limits are set by “noise area classifications” (NACs) based on the land use at the location of the person that hears the noise. They are also based on the sound level in decibels (dBA) over ten percent (L10), or six minutes, and fifty percent (L50), or thirty minutes, of an hour.
For residential locations (NAC 1) the limits are L10 = 65 dBA and L50 = 60 dBA during the daytime (7:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.) and L10 = 55 dBA and L50 = 50 dBA during the nighttime (10:00 p.m. – 7:00 a.m.) (Minn. State Noise Pollution Control Rules 7030.0040). This means that during the one-hour period of monitoring, daytime noise levels cannot exceed 65 dBA for more than 10 percent of the time (six minutes) and cannot exceed 60 dBA more than 50 percent of the time (thirty minutes).
A guide to noise control in Minnesota
This publication provides information on the basics of sound and noise regulation, including state rules and supporting acoustical information.
- A guide to noise control in Minnesota (May 2015)
Below are several frequently asked questions about noise in Minnesota:
I live near a bar that is playing loud music. Who do I contact to address this problem?
Most local governments and law enforcement have the authority to enforce state noise standards. The MPCA has limited resources to enforce the standards pertaining to local land uses including loud businesses and neighbors.
MPCA can, however, provide some assistance to local officials regarding noise concerns. The MPCA has noise monitors available for local governments to perform noise monitoring in response to complaints. To borrow a monitor, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 651-296-6300, or 1-800-657-3864 if you are outside of the Twin Cities area.
There is an industrial facility near my home that is making a lot of noise. How do I get it to quiet down?
The MPCA enforces noise standards at facilities for which it has issued a permit. For complaints about noise at one of these facilities, please use the Online Citizen Complaints Form. If you prefer, you may call the MPCA to make your complaint: 651-296-6300 within the Twin Cities metropolitan area or 1-800-657-3864 if you are outside of this area.
Who do I contact regarding the highway noise near my home?
The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) handles complaints about noise on highways and other roads it manages. According to Minn. Stat. 116.07.2a, most roads are exempt from Minnesota’s state noise rules. MnDOT does, however, have policies, agreed on with the MPCA, for providing noise mitigation when it is determined to be both feasible and reasonable. MPCA reviews some MnDOT projects and noise mitigation decisions. For further information on MnDOT’s noise policies, please visit its website: http://www.dot.state.mn.us/environment/noise/.
One of my neighbors has a very loud car. Who should I contact about it?
In addition to state rules addressing vehicle noise, local governments may have nuisance sound ordinances. As with noise relating to local land-use decisions, contacting your local government or law enforcement is your best course of action.
Who should I contact about the loud plane traffic above my house?
The Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) responds to all concerns regarding noise relating to aircraft or the airports. For more information, please see the MAC website.
People are riding loud snowmobiles and off-highway vehicles near my house. Are there rules regarding sound from these vehicles?
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) requires that all snowmobiles and off-highway vehicles be equipped with proper mufflers. For more information on DNR regulations for snowmobiles, off-highway vehicles, and boats, please visit the DNR website.
There is a gun club near my home and it is very loud. Is there a rule about noise from these facilities?
Minn Stat. 116.07.2a exempts gun clubs from Minnesota noise standards. However, Minn. Stat. 87A includes some standards regarding gun club noise. Through this statute, the DNR is authorized to regulate gun club noise. For further information, please visit the DNR website.
A motor vehicle race track is making a lot of noise near my home. Is there something someone can do about it?
Minn. Stat. 116.07.2a exempts motor vehicle race tracks built before July 1, 1996, from Minnesota’s noise standards. As with noise from other local land use decisions, your local government or law enforcement is your best resource regarding non-exempt race tracks.
I am a county planner and want to make sure my project complies with noise standards. What should I do?
The MPCA is available to provide advice to local governments regarding the Minnesota noise rules. Please contact email@example.com or call 651-296-6300, or 1-800-657-3864 if you are outside of the Twin Cities area. MPCA also provides environmental project review when appropriate.
For complaints about noise, please use the Online Citizen Complaints Form. If you prefer, you may call the MPCA to make your complaint. Please call 651-296-6300, or 1-800-657-3864 if you are outside of the Twin Cities area.
If you have an environmental question or comment, please use our Ask MPCA Form.
For more information about the MPCA's Noise Program and assistance for local governments, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 651-296-6300, or 1-800-657-3864 if you are outside of the Twin Cities area.
Links to related sites
- Minnesota Noise Pollution Control Rules
- Noise analysis (MnDOT)
- Metropolitan Airports Commission Noise Program
- Public nuisances (League of Minnesota Cities)
- City regulatory functions (League of Minnesota Cities)