Noise Regulation in the U.S.


Good noise regulations and clear community expectations protect the health and quality of life of citizens. Poorly designed, unenforceable, or unenforced noise regulations lead to neighbors hating each other and despising their local government. Unfortunately, communities have had little or no guidance on writing good noise regulations since the US EPA published its Model Community Noise Ordinance in 1974. In the last 44 years, noise, noise regulation, and noise enforcement has changed significantly. Communities wanting to update their noise regulations have primarily relied on copying other communities, and unfortunately, copying their mistakes.

The Noise Pollution Clearinghouse is engaged in a multi-year effort to revise the EPA’s Model Community Noise Ordinance, and finally bring noise regulation into the 21st Century. Our first phase of the project was to understand and document how communities are currently regulating noise. We are currently in our second phase, which is to analyze what is and isn’t working in current noise regulations. The third phase will be to develop a new model noise ordinance.

As part of this work, we are producing a series of 8 papers on the subject. The model noise ordinance will be complete in 2019 and most of the papers will be available later in 2018:

  • Preliminary Results of an Analysis of 491 Community Noise Ordinances
  • Types of Regulatory Tools and Their Advantages, Limitations, and Disadvantages
  • Analysis of 500 Noise Ordinances.
  • Enforcement of Local Community Noise Ordinances in the United States.
  • Noise Related Calls to Police Departments in the United States.
  • The State of Low Frequency Noise Regulation in the United States.
  • Penalties for Noise Violations in the United States.
  • Noise Ordinance Criteria Levels, an Update of the EPA’s 1974 Findings.


As part of our research, we have collected more than 500 noise ordinances. You can find them in our Law Library.

Library of Noise Ordinances

NPC has analyzed the noise ordinances of the 500 largest communities based on the regulatory tools they use. You can see how we classified each ordinance here:

Highlighted ordinances by state/county