One in five Europeans experiences harmful traffic-related noise levels, according to a new study by the European Environment Agency (EEA).
Excessive environmental noise, from cars, trains and air traffic, for example, can have harmful effects, such as sleep and concentration disorders, increased blood pressure, stress and cardiovascular diseases. It can also have a negative effect on metabolism and learning capacities, according to a study conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2018.
According to a recent study by the EEA, about 113 million Europeans are exposed to noise levels of 55 decibels and higher. The threshold for the risk of health problems increases is 53 decibels, according to the WHO.
In addition, another 22 million people suffer from harmful noise nuisance due to train traffic, and about 4 million people due to air traffic. Other unspecified types of harmful environmental noise affect about another million Europeans.
At least 12,500 children experience problems at school related to aircraft noise, according to the EEA’s estimations, and it could be responsible for about 12,000 premature deaths every year.
“Governments, both national and local, should take measures to tackle noise pollution,” the EEA said, suggesting switching to other forms of mobility such as electric cars, and encouraging people to walk or take their bikes whenever possible.
Renewing road surfaces or replacing rough pavements with smooth asphalt is the measure most used to reduce exposure to noise, the study states. Reducing speed limits in urban areas, better management of the traffic flow, and considering “quiet areas” such as parks in city design, should also help.