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Environmental noise

environmental noise control, environmental noise
Environmental noise is the summary of noise pollution from outside, caused by transport, industrial and recreational activities1

Noise is frequently described as 'unwanted sound', and, within this context, environmental noise is generally present in some form in all areas of human activity The effects in humans of exposure to environmental noise may vary from emotional to physiological and psychological2

Noise at low levels is not necessarily harmful; environmental noise can also convey a sense of liveliness in an area, and is not then always considered 'unwanted' However, the adverse effects of noise exposure ie noise pollution could include: interference with speech or other 'desired' sounds, annoyance, sleep disturbance, anxiety, hearing damage and stress-related cardiovascular health problems3

Weather-proof microphone attached to box containing sound level meter for environmental noise measurements

As a result, environmental noise is studied, regulated and monitored by many governments and institutions This creates a number of different occupations The basis of all decisions is supported by the objective and accurate measurement of noise Noise is measured in decibels dB using a pattern-approved sound level meter The measurements are typically taken over a period of weeks, in all weather conditions


  • 1 Environmental noise emission
  • 2 Environmental noise policy and regulation
    • 21 European Union
      • 211 Austria
      • 212 France
      • 213 Germany
      • 214 United Kingdom
  • 3 See also
  • 4 Notes
  • 5 References
  • 6 External links

Environmental noise emissionedit

Noise from transportation is typically emitted by the machinery eg the engine or exhaust and aerodynamic noise see aerodynamics and aircraft noise caused by the compression and friction in the air around the vessel during motion

Industrial and recreational noise could be generated by a multitude of different sources and processes

Sound propagation outdoors is subject to meteorological effects eg wind, temperature that affect the distance, speed, and direction with which environmental noise travels from a source to a listener

Environmental noise policy and regulationedit

European Unionedit

Main article: Environmental noise directive

The European Union has a special definition based on the European directive 2002/49/EC article 101 This directive gives a definition for environmental noise The main target is an integrated noise management

The implementation is divided into phases: In the first phase, the member states shall inform about major roads with more than six million vehicles a year, major railways with more than 60,000 trains per year, major airports with more than 50,000 movements per year and metropolitan areas with more than 250,000 inhabitants In the second phase, these numbers are halved; only the criteria for airports remains unchanged In the third and the following phases, the methods for calculation of the noise levels will change while the criteria remain unchanged Each phase consists of three steps: the collection of the data from the main sources of noise, strategic noise maps and action plans


In Austria the institution which is responsible for the noise sources is also responsible for the noise maps concerning these sources This means that the Federation is responsible for the federal roads and each state is responsible for the country's roads


France reported 24 metropolitan areas, Paris was the biggest with 96 million inhabitants and 272 square kilometres


Germany implemented national regulations in 2005 and 2006 and reported 27 metropolitan areas in the first phase: Berlin was the biggest with 339 million inhabitants and 889 square kilometres, Hamburg the largest with 1,045 square kilometres and 2 million inhabitants The smallest was Gelsenkirchen with 270,000 inhabitants and 105 square kilometres In the national legislation, noise resulting from recreational activities like sports and leisure is not considered as environmental noise

United Kingdomedit

The United Kingdom reported a total of 28 metropolitan areas, where London is the largest with 83 million inhabitants The majority of metropolitan areas are located in England; in Scotland and Wales there are each two, in Northern Ireland only the capital Belfast

See alsoedit

  • Acoustical engineering
  • Noise control
  • Noise calculation
  • Ambience sound recording
  • Buy Quiet


  • Health effects from noise
  • Noise pollution
  • Environmental health


  1. ^ European Commission "The Green Paper on Future Noise Policy" PDF Archived from the original PDF on 23 November 2010 Retrieved 7 September 2013 
  2. ^ Kinsler, LE, Frey, AR, Coppens, AB and Sanders, JV 2000 Fundamentals of acoustics New York City: John Wiley & Sons p 359 ISBN 978-0471-84789-2 CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list link
  3. ^ World Health Organization "Guidelines for community noise" Retrieved 7 September 2013 


  • Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council concerning Directive 2002/49/EC
  • Directive 2002/49/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 June 2002 relating to the assessment and management of environmental noise

External linksedit

  • Noise effects Beyond annoyance
  • Noise Observation and Information Service for Europe
  • Information: Lärm – ein Problem in Europa / Noise – a problem in Europe
  • NIOSH Buy Quiet Topic Page

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