21st October, 2009
The World Health Organisation (WHO) office for Europe has published a new study: ‘Night noise guidelines for Europe’. It is not specifically about aircraft noise, but it has much relevance to it.
The report recommends an annual average night noise exposure (Leq) not exceeding 40 decibels (dB) – equivalent to a quiet residential street. WHO says that while levels above this can cause sleep disturbance and insomnia, prolonged exposure to noise above 55dB at night can trigger raised blood pressure and even heart attacks.
The study also points out that even if there is a quiet ‘night period’ of 8 hours, that only protects 50% of adults. This is because not everyone sleeps at the same time. Extending the night period to 10 hours would increase the protection to 80%.
This figure of 40dB is well below that which the EU requires to be mapped in its Noise Directive. Scientific research is, one again, showing the scale of the problem that the politicians and bureaucrats fail to acknowledge.