Noise threatens millions of Germans

"Day against noise": Federal Environment Agency calls for a turnaround in the burden of citizens

Landing plane © IMSI MasterClips
Read out

Noise not only affects the quality of life but also makes you ill. That's not new. However, calculations by the Federal Environmental Agency (UBA) have now shown that 13 million citizens are burdened with noise levels that cause significant health risks such as heart attacks and increasing sleep disturbances.

"It is high time for a turnaround in the noise pollution of the population. Because: noise is not only annoying - it can also make you sick, "said UBA President Professor Andreas Troge on the occasion of the international day against noise on April 25, 2007. The European Environmental Noise Directive is important with the information and participation of the population to better protect human health from noise. "We have to do more to reduce the noise pollution of our population. There is still too much silence around the noise, "says Troge.

Studies for the UBA show that traffic noise increasingly causes sleep disorders and increases the risk of particularly suffering from disorders of the cardiovascular system. For example, a literature study compiled in the UBA underpins the connection between road traffic noise and heart attacks: The risk of suffering a heart attack increases by approximately 30 percent in men, if they live in areas with high traffic noise for a long time, their average outdoor noise level during the day 65 decibels (dB (A)).

Aircraft noise increases the consumption of medicines

There is a direct correlation between aircraft noise and increased drug consumption. This is the result of an epidemiological study for the UBA, which analyzed data from more than 800, 000 people in the vicinity of a German night-time airport. According to this, aircraft noise causes those affected to visit the doctor more often and the doctors prescribe more medication for them.

These scientific findings are also reflected in surveys on the noise experienced by the population in the living environment: the respondents regularly classify road traffic noise as the largest disruption - against other factors, such as car exhausts and wastewater from factories. The UBA's online noise survey, which is carried out continuously, also reveals this relevance: 60 percent of the participants feel that they are significantly harassed by road traffic noise. display

Despite these known negative effects of traffic, there was no turnaround: the noise levels remain at a high level. One reason for this may be that the EU, the federal government, federal states and local authorities have so far failed to take enough account of the effects of noise in their planning decisions, especially in traffic planning and town planning. However, with the EC Environmental Noise Directive, this topic will in future be more closely integrated into municipal planning.

Already soon lärmmarme street coverings?

As a first step, the directive aims to cover the noise pollution of the population in large conurbations and main roads until 30 June 2007. With the participation of the public, national action plans against the noise should be created by 18 July 2008. With this binding participation of the population there could be a broad political discussion on the effects of the disturbances; even rarely used measures - such as low-noise street coverings - could be used more extensively.

The UBA is involved in noise planning for the protection of the population and for ambitious environmental quality targets. To maintain exercise levels below 65 dB (A) as the 24-hour value and 55 dB (A) in the night time period can only be a first step to prevent serious health risks and sleep disturbances. In the medium term, the UBA recommends reducing the noise load to 60 dB (A) as a 24-hour value and 50 dB (A) at night.

(Federal Environmental Agency / GSF, 24.04.2007 - DLO)