Environmental noise (external noise) is a widespread and often underestimated stress factor that significantly affects public health and well-being. It refers to unwanted or harmful sound from various sources such as road traffic, railway traffic, air traffic, industrial activities, construction, and recreational activities. According to the European Environment Agency (EEA), road traffic is the primary source of noise pollution in European cities.
Prolonged exposure to high noise levels can harm both physical and mental health. Research shows that high noise exposure is physically associated with cardiovascular diseases, such as high blood pressure and an increased risk of heart disease. Furthermore, noise can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to sleep disturbances and fatigue, which, in turn, affect cognitive function and productivity. Socially, noise pollution can reduce the quality of life in urban areas by inhibiting concentration, communication, and relaxation, resulting in irritability and reduced participation in the community (EEA).
The Danish Environmental Protection Agency estimates that around 200-500 premature deaths can be attributed to environmental noise. Urban planning, noise regulation, and technological advancements are crucial for reducing these impacts.
The Department of Environmental Science, Aarhus University, Roskilde, contributes to research on the health effects of air and noise pollution in population studies alongside national and international epidemiologists. In this context, the Department of Environmental Science can provide estimates of noise exposure. The Department has a range of environmental noise models, namely Nord2000, RTN-96, CNOSSOS, SoundPLAN, and TRANEX. The first three models are implemented in SoundPLAN. This enables the calculation of environmental noise levels from various sources such as road traffic, railways, aviation, industry, etc.
Khan, J., Thysell, E., Backalarz, C., Finne, P., Hertel, O., & Jensen, S.S. (2023). Performance Evaluation of Nord2000, RTN-96 and CNOSSOS-EU against Noise Measurements in Central Jutland, Denmark. MDPI Acoustics, 5(4). Pp. 1099-1122. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/acoustics5040062.
European Environment Agency (2023). Noise. Available online: https://www.eea.europa.eu/en/topics/in-depth/noise.
European Environment Agency (2020). Environmental Noise in Europe. Available online: https://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/environmental-noise-in-europe.
World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Europe (2019). Environmental noise guidelines for the European Region. Available online: https://www.who.int/europe/publications/i/item/9789289053563.
Danish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (2022). Traffic noise. Available online: https://eng.mst.dk/industry/noise/traffic-noise.
European Environment Agency (2022). Health effects of exposure to noise from transport. Available online: https://shorturl.at/fAVY6.