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Question 15 - Impact on Noise, Odor, and Light - Full EAF (Part 2)

Full Environmental Assessment Form (FEAF) Workbook

The proposed action may result in an increase in noise, odors, or outdoor lighting.

Noise, odors and lighting generated by a proposed project can impact adjacent or nearby properties. They can be generated during both construction and operation phases of a project and can create conditions which can affect the health and safety of both humans and wildlife. Often, construction activities can create a great deal of noise, but when completed, the project area may become quiet again. Odors can also be generated by construction vehicles, but may also be part of normal operating conditions related to the proposed land use activity. Most projects that result in a structure or building have the need for outdoor lighting that can cast glare onto nearby roads and properties. This question explores whether the proposed project will increase noise, air conditions, or lighting levels.

To answer this question

Review Part 1 questions D.2.m., D.2.n., D.2.o., and E.1.a.

If noises or odors will be produced or outdoor lighting used, answer 'Yes' to Question 15 and then continue to sub-questions (a) through (f). If no increase in noise, odor or lighting is expected as a result of the proposed project, check 'No' to Question 15 and move on to Question 16.

Identifying potential impacts

The reviewing agency should evaluate the following sub-questions and decide if there will be any impact. If there will be an impact, the reviewing agency must then evaluate the magnitude of that impact, and decide if the impact will be small or moderate to large. This will depend on the overall scale and context of the proposed project as described in the Introduction to Part 2. The reviewing agency should be reasonable when conducting this review. For additional information on the concept of reasonableness as it applies to SEQR, refer to section F in the Introduction of the SEQR Handbook (PDF) (1.9MB).

  • If the proposed project exceeds a numeric threshold in a question, it is presumed to be a moderate to large impact.
  • If the proposed project does not exceed a numeric threshold in a question, the reviewing agency should consider the scale and context of the project in determining if an impact may be small or moderate to large.
  • These sub-questions are not meant to be exhaustive. The reviewing agency should use the "Other impacts:" sub-question to include any additional elements they feel need to be analyzed for potential impacts.

a. The proposed action may produce sound above noise levels established by local regulation.

"Noise is defined as any loud, discordant or disagreeable sound or sounds. More commonly, in an environmental context, noise is defined simply as unwanted sound. Certain activities inherently produce sound levels or sound characteristics that have the potential to create noise. The sound generated by proposed or existing facilities may become noise due to land use surrounding the facility. When lands adjoining an existing or proposed facility contain residential, commercial, institutional or recreational uses that are proximal to the facility, noise is likely to be a matter of concern to residents or users of adjacent lands."

Sources of noise can come from fixed or mobile equipment, process operations, or in the transportation of products, materials, or wastes. Noise generating equipment can include " a very wide range of equipment including: generators; pumps; compressors; crushers of plastics, stone or metal; grinders; screens; conveyers; storage bins; or electrical equipment. Mobile operations may include: drilling; haulage; pug mills; mobile treatment units; and service operations. Transport movements may include truck traffic within the operation, loading and unloading trucks and movement in and out of the facility. Any or all of these activities may be in operation at any one time. Singular or multiple effects of sound generation from these operations may constitute a potential source of noise."

DEC has developed a guidance document on assessing and mitigating noise impacts (PDF) (107 KB) that may be helpful in evaluating noise impacts.

Applicable Part 1 Information



  • What is the ambient noise level in and around the project site?
  • Will the project result in noise that will be above the ambient noise level?
  • How long will the noise last (hours, days, permanently), and what type of noise will it be (steady or variable)?
  • If noises are to be produced, does the project already include any mitigation measures such as sound barriers?
  • Does the community have a local law regulating noise?

Will there be an impact?

Projects that do not involve construction or land use activities may not affect the ambient noise levels. (Ambient noise level is the total background noise in an area.) If physical disturbances to a property are part of the proposed project then it is possible that construction activities will, at least temporarily, result in noise levels that exceed ambient conditions. After construction, some projects will no longer affect ambient noise levels, while others may significantly alter those levels.

Small Impact:

A small impact could occur under one or more of these circumstances:

  • If the project produces noise but those levels are below regulated levels.
  • If the project produces noise, but those levels are below or even above regulated levels and they are temporary and will occur only during a short-term construction phase.
Moderate to Large Impact:

A moderate to large impact could occur under one or more of these circumstances:

  • The project will generate regular or sporadic noise throughout its operating phase above any regulated level.
  • Noise will be generated continuously during day and/or night time hours even if the overall ambient noise levels do not change.
  • Noise will be generated sporadically or continuously and there are residences, businesses, hospitals, clinics, day care centers, or other receptors adjacent to the proposed project. Noise levels above ambient conditions will be produced long-term.
  • Noise will exceed established standards.

b. The proposed action may result in blasting within 1,500 feet of any residence, hospital, school, licensed day care center, or nursing home.

Blasting, or the lawful use of regulated explosives, is a common technique for civil engineering applications such as mining, tunneling, and removing bedrock outcroppings for building and highway construction. Blasting can also be used to deconstruct unnecessary or damaged structures. Blasting can result in vibration, which can shake people, animals, trees, buildings, roads, etc. causing physical damage to nearby structures and natural features could occur. The environmental effects of blasting noise and vibration vary depending not only on the size and location of the blast, but also on atmospheric conditions such as wind and humidity.

Applicable Part 1 Information

D.2.m., and



  • Will blasting occur? If so, when and how often?
  • Are there any residences, hospitals, schools, licensed day care centers, or nursing homes within 1,500 feet of the blasting operation?
  • Are any noise mitigation methods proposed as part of the project?
  • Has a noise impact study been conducted?

Will there be an impact?

If no blasting is to occur as part of a proposed project, or if blasting will take place in locations more than 1,500 feet from any residence, hospital, school, licensed day care center, or nursing home, there will be no related impacts. Unless local regulations or ordinances exist that are less than 1,500 feet, check "No, or small impact may occur."

Small Impact:
  • A small impact could occur if a number of blasts are part of the proposed project only during the construction phase.
Moderate to Large Impact:

A moderate to large impact could occur under one or more of these circumstances:

  • Blasting will take place on an ongoing basis as part of the operation of the project.
  • Blasting will take place within 1,500 feet from any residence, hospital, school, licensed day care center, or nursing home,

c. The proposed action may result in routine odors for more than one hour per day.

An odor is a chemical in the air that is "smelled" or sensed by our nose (olfactory system). Odor can be a significant environmental concern related to manufacturing, food processing, composting, landfills, and institutional or municipal facilities such as water and wastewater treatment plants.

Certain groups of chemicals that produce odors are potentially harmful and can cause health problems. Some of these harmful chemicals are regulated by the Department of Environmental Conservation (See Division of Air Resources), New York State Department of Health, and the US Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Air Act.

Odor can be controlled by chemical or mechanical methods, or a combination of both. Chemical applications, atomizing and liquid application systems, bioengineering programs, sheltering the activity or constructing containment structures equipped with appropriate air venting/filtering systems are all used as odor control methods.

Applicable Part 1 Information



  • Will odors be produced?
    • If so, how often, how long will they last, and what will produce that odor?
  • What kinds of surrounding land uses are adjacent to the proposed site and how far away will odors be smelled?

Will there be an impact?

If no odors will be produced from the proposed project, there will be no related impact. Check 'No, or small impact may occur."

Small Impact:

A small impact may occur if:

  • Odors will be produced for less than one hour per day.
Moderate to Large Impact:

A moderate to large impact may occur if:

  • Odors will be produced for more than one hour per day. This may include the application of odors to entice pedestrians to purchase services or merchandise.

d. The proposed action may result in light shining onto adjoining properties.

e. The proposed action may result in lighting creating sky-glow brighter than existing area conditions.

Outdoor lights have the potential to cause light pollution and glare. Light pollution is excessive and inappropriate artificial light. Problems associated with excessive or inappropriate outdoor lighting include sky glow (a brightening of the night sky over inhabited areas), light trespass (light falling where it is not intended, wanted, or needed), glare (excessive brightness which causes visual discomfort or decrease visibility) and clutter (bright, confusing, and excessive groupings of light sources). Adverse effects of light pollution include disruption of biological rhythms, impact on nocturnal wildlife, lowered visibility, and wasted money and energy. Glare can also be particularly hazardous to drivers. Projects may include general lighting for parking lots and buildings, safety lighting for walkways, or lighting for signs, landscaping and flagpoles.

Applicable Part 1 Information

D.2.n., and E.1.a.


  • What is the source of lighting and the location, height, direction and aim?
  • What type and wattage will the bulb be and what color is the light?
  • What hours will the lights be illuminated and are automatic timers planned?
  • How close is the lighting to the nearest occupied structure or public thoroughfare?
  • What are the existing sky glow conditions?
    • Will the proposed project change existing conditions?
    • If so, for how long and how much of the area will be impacted?
  • Will lighting cause glare or spillage onto neighboring properties or roads?
  • Are there any natural barriers that will prevent light spillage and glare or are any mitigation measures included such as screening such as vegetation, topography, or fencing?

Will there be an impact?

If no outdoor lighting will be used, then there will be no related impact. Check 'No, or small impact may occur.'

Small Impact:

• A small impact may occur if:

  • A limited number of lighting fixtures are planned for parking and safety lighting but all fixtures will be fully shielded, downward-directed and no glare or light spillage on adjacent properties or roadways will result, No signs, accessory structures, or buildings will be illuminated.
Moderate to Large Impact:

A moderate to large impact could occur under one or more of these circumstances:

  • Lighting will be provided for large recreational facilities or arenas.
  • Lighting will remain illuminated all night.
  • Lighting will be created in a rural area where there is currently dark skies and little sky glow.
  • There are no natural barriers present to screen lighting effects and the project site is visible from adjacent land uses.
  • Visibility of drivers on adjacent or nearby roads and streets may be impaired.

f. Other impacts:

There may be other impacts identified by the reviewing agency that are not addressed by the above questions. If so, they should be identified and briefly described here.

Some proposed actions may have beneficial impacts on the environment. The reviewing agency can use the 'other' category for that purpose, too.

Back to Part 2 (FEAF) Identification of Potential Project Impacts || Continue to Part 2 (FEAF) Question 16 Impact on Human Health

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