WHO/Europe has published the WHO Environmental Noise Guidelines for the European Region as a regional update. The Guidelines include a review of evidence on the health effects of environmental noise to incorporate significant research carried out in the last years. The health outcomes for which the evidence will be systematically reviewed include: sleep disturbance, annoyance, cognitive impairment, mental health and wellbeing, cardiovascular diseases, hearing impairment and tinnitus and adverse birth outcomes.
The WHO/Europe Environmental Noise Guidelines provides an important replacement to the 1999 Guidelines published 19 years ago. There have been significant advancements in our understanding of the health effects of noise since then, and although many areas of uncertainty remain, this comprehensive study based on 400 health effects studies between 1999 and 2015 provides valuable insights into the potential impact of noise on health. It will no doubt take many months until the implications of the WHO guidelines are considered for application in the UK. The IOA will be organising a conference later this year to bring members up to date and to begin to discuss the implications of this important WHO publication.
The main purpose of these guidelines is to provide recommendations for protecting human health from exposure to environmental noise originating from various sources: transportation (road traffic, railway and aircraft) noise, wind turbine noise and leisure noise. Leisure noise in this context refers to all noise sources that people are exposed to due to leisure activities, such as attending nightclubs, pubs, fitness classes, live sporting events, concerts or live music venues and listening to loud music through personal listening devices. The guidelines focus on the WHO European Region and provide policy guidance to Member States that is compatible with the noise indicators used in the European Union’s END (European Union Directive 2002/49/ EC relating to the assessment and management of environmental noise).
The Executive Summary is attached.