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phoyt Dec 21, 2015 12:35 AM
Noise Pollution resulting from motorway traffic: Can you tell me what the acceptable noise level resulting from motorway traffic is in decibels when at a distance of under 100mt and over 100metres?
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EEA Dec 21, 2015 04:43 PM
The application of direct limit values on motorways or at property close to a motorway is primarily a matter for the national administration of the country in which the source is located. It may even be the case that the responsibility for setting specific decibel (dB) limits is further devolved to regional or local authorities. For this reason, limit values may vary not only from country to country, but also region to region. In order to find out the limit applied to the road you are interested in it may be best to contact the local authority for that area. General information on the health effects of noise and various standards that are applied, including national limit values, please see the EEA technical report from 2010, entitled Good Practice Guide on noise exposure and potential health effects

With respect to European environmental law, Directive 2002/49/EC relating to the assessment and management of environmental noise is a key instrument for tackling noise from industrial and transport sources, including road traffic. This Directive places an obligation upon European Union Member States to assess the impact of road traffic noise in cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants and near to major roads on which more than 3 million vehicles travel each year. The assessment is to be conducted in the form of noise mapping, which is then to inform the drawing up of action plans designed to reduce exposure to high levels of noise and also to protect areas where the impact of noise may not yet be felt. The Directive requires the assessments to be made for long term average daily periods using the indicator Lden (day, evening, night level) and for average night periods by the indictor Lnight expressed in dB. The thresholds for action planning are stated as 55dB Lden and 50dB Lnight. In terms of limit values, the Directive leaves that to the discretion of Member States.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has a stated guideline level for night noise exposure in Europe due to sources such as road traffic noise. This was introduced in 2009, so after the Directive and it states a night noise guideline level of 40dB Lnight for Europe. The WHO considers this as a health based limit value necessary to protect the public, including most of the vulnerable groups such as children, the chronically ill and the elderly from the adverse health effects of night noise.

Concerning the Directive led assessments, EEA has published a report entitled Noise in Europe 2014 in which it is estimated that at least 125 million people, or 1 in 4 individuals are exposed to harmful levels of road traffic noise (>55dB Lden). This contributes to approximately 10,000 premature deaths per year in Europe. Importantly though, the report identifies that the Directive has not yet been fully implemented in Member States and so gaps exist in the noise mapping assessments. The true impact is, therefore, likely to be much greater than stated. Action plans are also found to be lacking in many countries.

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