At least 20 million adults in Europe are annoyed by transportation noise in agglomerations, from motorways, airports or railways. The majority of the noise annoyance and 90 percent of the burden of disease of environmental noise are related to the exposure to road traffic noise. This is the outcome of a RIVMNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment report compiled for the European Commission.

More than 9 million people are severely annoyed by noise. They experience feelings of irritation, anger and discomfort. Community noise also contributes to hypertension, cardiovascular disease, stroke and premature mortality. The results should be considered an underestimation as not all European countries have delivered their data yet.

Cardiovascular disease, stroke and premature mortality

The exposure to transportation noise in Europe led in 2011 to about 900 thousand cases of hypertension and 40 thousand hospital admissions due to cardiovascular disease and stroke; the number of cases of premature mortality due to these diseases as a result of noise exposure is about 10 thousand per year.

Night-time noise can lead to sleep disturbance, for example because residents don’t fall asleep easily or wake up during the night. An estimated 8 million people experience sleep disturbance due to transportation noise and about 4 million perceive this as severe.

Underestimation

These are the provisional results for 33 European countries (28 members of the European Union and Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey). Not all countries delivered the necessary information and the countries reported only the number of people that live at higher noise levels (more than 55 decibel for the 24 hour period or 50 decibel for the night). Under these decibel levels, there is a risk for health effects, but the exposure of the population at these lower levels is unknown, therefore the size of the effects cannot be assessed.