The European Environment Agency (EEA) has launched a comprehensive map of noise exposure, revealing the extent to which European citizens are exposed to excessive acoustic pollution.
Compiling information from 19 of the 32 EEA member countries, the Noise Observation and information Service for Europe (NOISE) database represents a major step towards a comprehensive pan-European service. It provides, at the click of a mouse, a picture of the numbers of people exposed to noise generated by air, rail and road traffic across Europe and in 102 large urban agglomerations.
Just over 41 million Europeans are exposed to excessive noise from road traffic alone in the largest cities. As estimated from the noise exposure map, half of the population in urban areas with more than 250 000 inhabitants endure levels above 55 dB Lden (the lower EU benchmark for an average 24-hour period) as a result of ambient road noise. Lden is an indicator of the overall noise level during the day, evening and night, which is used to convey the annoyance caused by noise exposure.
Following the adoption of the Environmental Noise Directive (END) in 2002, Member States were given until December 2007 to deliver relevant data. The Directive covers noise in public parks or other quiet areas in an agglomeration, in quiet areas in open country, and near schools, hospitals and other noise-sensitive buildings and areas. Users of the NOISE database can view the extent of data reported in accordance with the directive on a colour-coded map.