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Silence in Europe: Noise is a severe problem in Europe’s metropolitan areas

61% of people living in European metropolitan areas report substantial noise annoyance at home in their residential area. 32% feel very or extremely annoyed.

This is one of the first results of a European wide online survey on noise annoyance and noise sensitivity ( The study is carried out in the context of the European research network SILENCE. The aim of this network, co-funded by the European Commission, is to develop recommendations and rules for noise abatement. For this, the scientists focus their interest particularly on annoying traffic noise and how it is perceived by residents in urban areas.

So far, more than 2100 persons from 14 European countries – mainly living in Germany, Italy and Poland – participated in the SILENCE online survey on noise annoyance and noise sensitivity. The questionnaire is available in 10 languages: Catalan, German, English, French, Italian, Hungarian, Spanish, Swedish, Dutch and Polish. On average, respondents from Germany and Poland reported a higher degree of noise annoyance than participants from Italy and other European countries. This corresponds to the result that 53% of the German and 49% of the Polish participants live in (rather or very) noisy areas, while this is true only for 40% of Italian respondents and 44% of other countries.

The most annoying noise source is road traffic. 52% reported to be at least moderately annoyed by road traffic noise, while 16% complained about railway noise.

Noise annoyance is significantly influenced by the individual noise sensitivity, meaning that sensitive persons felt more annoyed than robust persons. Concerning the various aspects of sensitivity, 'habitation' and 'sleep' proved to be the most significant predictors for annoyance.

The survey will be continued. Anyone, who is interested can take part in the study and express his or her noise experience. The questionnaire is available at

Thomas Vogt | alfa
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