Industry & health


Traffic noise disturbs the lives of millions of European citizens. It is estimated that 44% of Europeans (over 210 million people) are regularly exposed to noise levels considered potentially dangerous to health.

Noise pollution can be defined as unwanted sounds caused by traffic (road, rail, and aircraft), industry, and leisure activities. High noise levels affect both health and overall quality of life. It raises stress, disrupts sleep and can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.

Noise also increases the stress already present from difficult social, familial or professional relationships and can intensify the development of mental disorders, among other numerous negative effects.

The European Environment Agency’s (EEA) Fourth Assessment of Europe’s Environment (2007) identifies that the health impacts of environmental noise are underestimated and require further attention.

In December 2011, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a regulation on the noise level of motor vehicles. The proposal was badly needed since the standards had not been updated since 1996, despite increasing traffic, and the current limits have failed to have the intended effect. However, the timetable for implementation proposed by the Commission is painfully slow. If the standards are adopted in 2012, they would only be fully implemented after 2017 for new types of vehicle and would only apply to all new vehicles sold after 2019. Given the urgency of the problem and its health effects, this is far too late.

Transport & Environment (T&E), the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) and EEB suggest a five point plan to make vehicles quieter. This plan would bring to the EU savings worth 51 billion Euros costing only 3 billion. Please click here to view our joint position paper.

In a joint declaration, cities, noise experts, politicians and civil society organizations including EEB have come together to call for ambitious European noise limits for new vehicles. Individuals can now also sign the joint declaration.

Please support quieter vehicles: read and support the Joint Declaration “A Sound Investment “.

See also the recent investigative TV report showing how Porsche influenced key EU politicians to try to reverse better noise protection in Europe:


Carmaker lobbies against cutting EU traffic noise





Useful links

- WHO’s Health and Noise homepage

- EEA’s webpage on noise




For more info, please contact:


Senior Policy Officer: Air and Noise

Tel: +32 (0) 2 289 13 07