ISO 1996-1:2003 defines the basic quantities to be used for the description of noise in community environments and describes basic assessment procedures. It also specifies methods to assess environmental noise and gives guidance on predicting the potential annoyance response of a community to long-term exposure from various types of environmental noises. The sound sources can be separate or in various combinations. Application of the method to predict annoyance response is limited to areas where people reside and to related long-term land uses.
Community response to noise can vary differently among sound sources that are observed to have the same acoustic levels. ISO 1996-1 describes adjustments for sounds that have different characteristics. The term rating level is used to describe physical sound predictions or measurements to which one or more adjustments have been added. On the basis of these rating levels, the long-term community response can be estimated.
The sounds are assessed either singly or in combination, allowing for consideration, when deemed necessary by responsible authorities, of the special characteristics of their impulsiveness, tonality and low-frequency content, and for the different characteristics of road traffic noise, other forms of transportation noise (such as aircraft noise) and industrial noise.
ISO 1996-1 does not specify limits for environmental noise.