Noise pollution is a more serious problem than you might think. For example, being subjected to noise during the day can activate the nervous systems that cause the production of stress-related hormones.
Other health problems due to noise pollution can be observed, too. According to the WHO (World Health Organization), it is the second highest cause of diseases after air pollution (1). In Western Europe alone, about a million lives are lost each year due to traffic noise (2).
People living in dense cities are one of the groups most affected by this, and the situation will only worsen as urban populations continue to grow rapidly.
So why isn’t anyone talking about the seriousness of noise pollution? Have we all simply gotten used to the harsh sounds of city life?
To regulate noise levels in dense populations, the European Union (EU) and the European Parliament enacted the Environmental Noise Directive in 2002 (3). Following this directive, member states of the EU were obliged to make noise exposure maps and create action plans to deal with noise pollution.
This resulted in the publication of the Actieplan Geluid 2013-2018 (Noise action plan) by the Municipality of Rotterdam in 2013. Between 2013 and 2018, the Municipality of Rotterdam worked on solutions to relieve people from the noise present in the city. However, these solutions mainly improved the acoustics and individual noise exposure in private spaces.