Noise pollution besieges Europe’s cities

27.10.2009 (AFP)

PARIS — Half of urban Europe endures noise pollution from road, rail and air
traffic loud enough to disrupt sleep, impair learning and trigger hypertension
at night, according to a report released.

More than 41 million people in cities of at least 250,000 people from 19 countries
that submitted road transport data to the European Environment Agency (EEA) deal
with road racket averaging 55 decibels or higher — the World Health Organization
threshold for health impacts.

Among capital cities, Bratislava is the noisiest, with nearly 55 percent of the
population thus exposed, followed closely by Warsaw and Paris, the EAA reported.

Some 3.6 million urban dwellers cope with an ear-splitting levels of 70 decibels
or higher.

Many European Union countries — including France, Portugal, Belgium and Greece
— failed to provide complete data before a December 2007 cut-off date, leaving
major gaps in the transport noise database published online Monday (

But earlier this year the EEA estimated that some 67 million urbanites in the
27-nation European Union are confronted with noise levels above the 55 decibel

“Besides disturbing sleep, there is increasing evidence that transport noise
can effect the cadiovascular system, mental health and school performance,” said
Oscar Romero, a spokesman for the Copenhagen-based EU agency.

Noise has gotten a “late start” compared to other forms of pollution, both in
terms of regulation and public opinion, he said.

“If you compare the level of awareness about air quality or greenhouse gas emissions
to noise, I think we are still at an early stage,” he commented by telephone.

Scientists have also been slow to focus on how constant noise levels influence
mental and physical health, as well in the classroom and the workplace, he pointed

Air traffic noise pollution is affects a large number of people in the Netherlands,
Germany and especially Britain, where more than 800,000 people are exposed to
steady decibel levels ranging from 55 to more than 75.

“We also have studies piling up about how noise is affecting wildlife,” Romero

In 2002, the EAA’s 32 members adopted the Environmental Noise Directive, pledging
to provide standardised data on noise levels from road, rail and air transport.

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see also

Environmental Protection

European Noise Exposure Map Published | 27 Oct 2009

The European Environment Agency has launched the first map of noise exposure
in Europe, showing the extent of noise pollution from rail, air, and road traffic
and 102 agglomerations.

The NOISE (Noise Observation and Information Service for Europe) database shows
the number of people exposed to transport noise, bringing together data from 19
of the 32 member states, as reported under the requirements of the Environmental
Noise Directive.

The maps indicate that half the population of urban areas with over 250, 000
inhabitants are exposed to noise levels above 55 dB Lden from transport noise.
Just over 41 million Europeans are exposed to excessive noise from road traffic
alone in the largest cities.



more information on the European Environment Agency website at