About 20% of the European population is exposed to environmental noise at levels that experts consider unacceptable. The health impacts include annoyance, sleep disturbance, and stress-related problems such as cardio-vascular disease. Road traffic is the main source of environmental noise pollution; other sources include aircraft, trains and industry.
Indirect comparisons of the harmful effects of environmental noise and air pollution are possible using the concept of disability-adjusted life years (DALY). This suggests that noise pollution is just as serious as air pollution. Moreover, whereas traffic-induced air pollution is expected to decrease over the next decade, the opposite is true of noise pollution.
The Environmental Noise Directive (END) (2002/49/EC) demands that major EU cities produce maps of traffic noise every five years, and draw up action plans for locations where noise levels are unacceptably high. Currently, noise mapping and action planning focus on the most exposed facades of city dwellings. However, the END indicates that quiet areas in cities and quiet facades should also be controlled.
The QSIDE project aims to demonstrate a new methodology for assessing traffic noise in cities, including in quiet areas and at quiet facades. The project aims to show how European cities can effectively reduce the harmful effects of traffic noise by offering people noise refuges.
The project will use a new engineering method to measure noise levels at quiet facades and in quiet areas and to produce detailed traffic-noise mapping of cities. It will then estimate the reduction in the numbers of annoyed and sleep-disturbed people as a result of the creation of quiet facades and areas.
Demonstration calculations will be performed for the cities of Amsterdam and Gothenburg in order to show the benefits of quiet facades and areas. It is expected that this will show that the possibility to choose a bedroom on the quiet side of a house reduces the numbers of annoyed/highly-annoyed and sleep-disturbed people.
The new methodology will offer local authorities a tool for assessing the positive effects of quiet facades and areas. The project will also produce guidelines indicating how quiet facades and areas can be created as part of urban environmental policy, for example, by modifying traffic flows or by choosing specific orientations of residential buildings with respect to roads.