Environmental noise means unwanted or harmful outdoor sound created by human activities. This includes noise emitted by means of transport, road and rail traffic, air traffic, and noise from sites of industrial activity. It is among the most frequent sources of complaint regarding environmental issues in Ireland and throughout Europe.
Noise is a highly subjective issue and affects people in different ways. However, scientific research into understanding the impacts of noise is increasingly showing the detrimental health impacts that exposure to noise pollution can have. According to the European Environment Agency, environmental noise causes at least 10,000 cases of premature death in Europe each year. Almost 20 million adults suffer annoyance and a further 8 million suffer sleep disturbance as a result of environmental noise.
The World Health Organisation has identified noise as the second most significant environmental cause of ill health. Air pollution has been identified as the first cause. The 7th EAP (EU, 2013) includes an objective to significantly decrease noise pollution by 2020. The WHO Regional Office for Europe has developed a set of guidelines based on the growing understanding of these health impacts of exposure to environmental noise.
Definition of a noise nuisance in legislation
A noise so loud, so continuous, so repeated, of such pitch or duration or occurring at such times that it gives a person reasonable cause for annoyance.