Belgium in Brief: Anything for a quiet life

Belgium in Brief: Anything for a quiet life

For anyone living in an urban environment, the city soundtrack is part of the day to day, unavoidable and something you quickly learn to tune out no matter how insistent the wail of sirens or endless roadworks.

It's testament to the human capacity to adapt to unnatural environments. To walk through town is to expose yourself to a barrage of vibrations throbbing in discord. This soon becomes second nature.

Yet skilled as we are at acclimatising to the cacophony of modern life, the long-term effects are sizeable. General stress, hypertension, and higher blood pressure had already been linked to exposure to loud noise but a new report puts a more exact figure on the health costs of noise pollution in Brussels: 8 months of healthy living.

There is both irony and logic in paying for a lifestyle with your own life and no shortage of studies to point out healthier choices we can make. But unlike a diet or exercise regime, noise pollution is inescapable to all who don't wrap themselves in cotton wool. Brussels has made significant moves to cut it, generally a knock-on effect of the larger battle for a cleaner city. But there is a long way to go.

The pandemic afforded an unprecedented opportunity for city dwellers to get a sense of how transformative quieter neighbourhoods can be. But whilst some wildlife could creep into urban spaces uncrowded by traffic, locals were largely unable to enjoy the novelty with lockdowns imposed and economies hit hard by the downturn in activity.

Sound and the city are synonymous and this will require significant structural measures to change. But calmer, less congested spaces would be a welcome change to life as many of us know it.

Hear! Hear!

What sounds drive you mad? Let @Orlando_tbt know.

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1. Noise pollution knocks 8 months off Brussels life expectancy

The sounds of the city are well known to residents of urban centres around the world. But what for many is simply the background to their daily life has detrimental long-term health effects, now quantified in a report published by Brussels Environment on Tuesday. Read more.

2. Strépy tragedy: Driver in jail, passenger on bail

Both occupants of the car that drove into a carnival crowd in Strépy-Bracquegnies, killing six people and injuring many others, face criminal charges, but only the driver is currently detained. Read more.

3. Belgium’s hoped-for herd immunity against Covid ‘not possible,’ says expert

The hoped-for herd immunity against Covid-19, in which most of the population in Belgium will be immune to the coronavirus, is “impossible,” says microbiologist Emmanuel André (KU Leuven). Read more.

4. Brussels reveals ‘best shrimp croquette’ in Capital Region

At the start of spring, the shrimp croquettes made by Les Brasseries Georges in the Brussels municipality of Uccle were elected the best ones in the Capital Region for 2022. Read more.

5. From ‘excellent’ to ‘extremely poor’: Brussels air quality mapped by neighbourhood

The results of the largest ever citizen survey on air quality in the Belgian capital reveal that pollution in Brussels falls often along income lines, with the city’s most disadvantaged and vulnerable households breathing air of a markedly different quality from wealthy residents. Read more.

6. Sixth anniversary of terrorist attacks: Belgium pays tribute to victims

Belgium paid tribute on Tuesday to victims of terrorist attacks, including those lost during the attacks that rocked the country six years ago in Brussels and Zaventem. Read more.

7. Unfair treatment: Different registration fees in different communes for Ukraine refugees

Ukrainians registering in Brussels pay more in certain municipalities than in others, while some of the city’s communes don’t charge a fee at all, a survey by Bruzz shows. Read more.

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