New WHO noise guidelines for Europe

On 10 October 2018, the World Health Organisation (WHO) published ‘Environmental noise guidelines for the European region’. The guidelines have been developed, based on the growing understanding of these health impacts of exposure to environmental noise.

The main purpose of these guidelines is to provide recommendations for protecting human health from exposure to environmental noise originating from various sources: transportation (road traffic, railway and aircraft) noise, wind turbine noise and leisure noise. 

They provide robust public health advice underpinned by evidence, which is essential to drive policy action that will protect communities from the adverse effects of noise. 

Compared to previous WHO guidelines on noise, this version contains five new developments:

  • stronger evidence of the cardiovascular and metabolic effects of environmental noise;
  • inclusion of new noise sources, namely wind turbine noise and leisure noise, in addition to noise from transportation (aircraft, rail and road traffic);
  • use of a standardised approach to assess the evidence;
  • a systematic review of evidence, defining the relationship between noise exposure and risk of adverse health outcomes;
  • use of long-term average noise exposure indicators to better predict adverse health outcomes.

The guidelines also highlight data and research gaps to be addressed in future studies.

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