New WHO Noise levels aim to protect health from transport, leisure and wind turbine noise

congested motorway trafficExposure to loud or annoying noise has long been associated with disturbance, stress and anxiety, so its fitting that the new World Health Organisation(WHO) Environmental Noise Guidelines for Europe are published today, World Mental Health Day. Noise is not just an annoyance, and these new guidelines document stronger evidence of the impacts noise exposure can have on our cardiovascular and metabolic health. WHO rank environmental noise as a serious threat to public health, second only to air pollution.

These new WHO guidelines update existing recommendations for protecting human health from exposure to noise from transport (road traffic, railway and aircraft) noise. In addition, they recognise that sources of noise from newer technologies and our leisure activities can impact our health – these are:

  • wind turbine noise
  • leisure noise (including attending nightclubs, pubs, fitness classes, live sporting events, concerts or live music venues and listening to loud music through personal listening devices.

 A framework is also provided for policy makers working to develop policies and plans for reducing exposure to harmful noise.

Guiding principles: reduce, promote, coordinate and involve

Reduce exposure to noise, while conserving quiet areas.

Promote interventions to reduce exposure to noise and improve health.

Coordinate approaches to control noise sources and other environmental health risks.

Inform and involve communities potentially affected by a change in noise exposure.

To avoid impacts on public health, keeping noise exposure below the following levels is recommended:

Road Traffic noise
For average over a day – below 53 decibels (dB)Lden
For night noise exposure, to avoid impacts on sleep – below 45 dBLnight

Railway noise
For average over a day – below 54dB Lden
For night noise exposure, to avoid impacts on sleep – 44dBLnight

Aircraft noise
For average noise exposure – below 45 dBLden
For night noise exposure,to avoid impacts on sleep – below 40dBLnight

Wind Turbine noise
For average noise exposure – below 45 dBLden
The quality of evidence of night-time exposure to wind turbine noise is
too low to allow a recommendation.

Leisure noise

For average noise exposure – reducing the yearly average from all leisure noise sources combined to 70 dB LAeq,24hFor single-event and impulse noise exposures, following existing guidelines and legal regulations to limit the risk of increases in hearing impairment from leisure noise in both children and adults is recommended.

The full report can be found here http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/environment-and-health/noise/publications/2018/environmental-noise-guidelines-for-the-european-region-executive-summary-2018

Noise Action Week has been working for over twenty years to coordinate and involve policy makers, noise management professionals and communities in reducing the impact noise has on our health. The week provides an opportunity to raise the profile of noise problems and solutions to reducing niose and the impacts it has on our health. 

Get in touch to find out more and support us in using Noise Action Week in May 2019 to improve the sound of our towns and cities and prevent noise  intruding on the areas where we enjoy quiet time. noiseactionweek@susspace.org.uk

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