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Health impacts from noise on the EU agenda

Noise not only interferes with people’s daily activities at school, at work, at home and during leisure time but it also involves health risks which can cause sleep disturbance, hearing damage and heart disease. As the European Parliament is currently discussing a proposal to reduce vehicle noise, HEAL and others demand a more ambitious law to address the issue.

According to the World Health Organization, traffic noise in Europe is the second biggest environmental threat to health after air pollution. Other assessments have revealed that fifty thousand deaths and a quarter of a million cases of cardiovascular disease every year in Europe are linked to traffic noise.

The European Commission has proposed a new regulation which would update noise standards for road vehicles for the first time in 20 years. HEAL urges the European Parliament and the Council to adopt more ambitious regulations to improve standards even more.

In a joint position paper, HEAL, Transport&Environment and European Environmental Bureau argue that the revised legislation needs to be adopted faster and to go further in lowering traffic noise levels. An extra two-decibel reduction for cars, vans, lorries and buses would reduce the number of people who are currently highly impacted by noise by 40% and the number of sleep-disturbed people by almost a third.

A report by Dutch consultancy TNO for T&E, published earlier this month, showed the benefits of ambitious vehicle noise legislation would outweigh the costs by thirty times.

An event in the European Parliament on 6 June will bring together European Parliamentarians, experts and health affected groups to discuss this unique opportunity for public health protection.

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Originally posted on 10 May 2012

About HEAL

The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is a leading European not-for-profit organisation addressing how the environment affects health in the European Union (EU). We demonstrate how policy changes can help protect health and enhance people’s quality of life. Read more »


HEAL has over 70 member organisations, representing health professionals, not-for-profit health insurers, doctors, nurses, cancer and asthma groups, citizens, women’s groups, youth groups, environmental NGOs, scientists and public health institutes. Members include international and Europe-wide organisations, as well as national and local groups. Read more »

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