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Road traffic noise a key risk to health and wellbeing, report finds

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Road traffic noise is one of the main environmental risks to health and wellbeing, a new study with analysis from 25 European countries has found.

Published in the April 2022 edition of the Environment International journal, the report conducted analysis in 724 cities and 25 greater cities throughout Europe.

Across the area included, it found that nearly 60 million adults have been exposed to road traffic noise levels that are harmful to health, while 11 million are “highly annoyed” by it.

Furthermore, the report argued that more than 3,600 deaths from Ischaemic Heart Disease could be prevented each year if road traffic noise was reduced.

Based on the findings, the authors recommended that the access to and quality of noise data needed to be improved at the city level in order for “more comprehensive estimates” about the impact of road traffic noise to be made.

“We estimate that a considerable number of adults (i.e. almost 60 million and a median of 42 per cent of the adult population) across the analysed cities are exposed to road traffic noise levels that are harmful for health,” the report concluded.

“In addition, we show that reducing road traffic noise to WHO recommended levels could lead to improved health outcomes in terms of reduced number of people highly annoyed and mortality.

“Nevertheless, efforts to standardize the strategic noise maps and increase noise and disease data availability at the city level are still needed. These would allow for a more accurate and comprehensive assessment of the health impacts and further help local governments to address the adverse health effects of road traffic noise.”

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