WHO Environmental noise guidelines for the European Region

Friends Against Wind

“… new noise sources of concern for public health, such as wind turbines, were not addressed in previous guidelines.”

By M.-E. Héroux et al.


World Health Organization (WHO) published the Guidelines for Community Noise in 1999 and the Night Noise Guidelines for Europe in 2009.

Significant new research in the area of environmental noise and health has taken place since then.

As well, new noise sources of concern for public health, such as wind turbines, were not addressed in previous guidelines.

For these reasons, WHO is currently engaged in the revision of all pertinent literature and will provide recommendations for the protection of public health as part of WHO Environmental Noise Guidelines for the European Region.

The guidelines will focus on the WHO European Region and provide guidance to its Member States that is compatible with the noise indicators used in the European Union (EU) Directive on Environmental Noise.

We systematically review the effects of noise on the following health outcomes: effects on sleep, annoyance, cognitive impairment, cardiovascular disease, hearing impairment, tinnitus, adverse birth outcomes, and mental health and wellbeing.

The guidelines will consider the evidence on health effects of environmental noise related to the following various sources: aircraft, railway, road traffic, wind turbines and leisure noise.

They will address exposure to noise in such relevant settings as residences, hospitals, learning establishments and public venues.

Additionally, they will review the potential health benefits from noise mitigation and interventions to decrease noise levels.

The process of developing the guidelines involves the synthesis and interpretation of the available evidence by a large group of scientists from across the world under the coordination of WHO.

The Guidelines will provide up-to-date information on the health risks from environmental noise and evidence-based recommendations in order to support WHO Member States in their efforts to prevent and control exposure to excessive environmental noise.

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