Noise pollution and its physical and psychological damage (2004)

Noise pollution is one of the factors affecting the quality of life of the population, especially in urban areas, where noise levels are often high due to the presence of numerous sources, such as transport infrastructure, manufacturing and commercial activities, entertainment venues and other noise sources such as construction sites and outdoor music events that, affect the overall quality of life levels, although temporarily.
Whilst the European Community has seen a decrease in the highest noise levels in the highest risk areas – the so-called ‘black zones’ – over the last fifteen years, at the same time there has been a widening of the areas with different levels of attention (known as grey zones), which has led to an increase in the exposed population, reversing the positive consequences of the first trend. A 1995 Eurobarometer survey, quoted in the Green Paper, defines noise as the fifth most important source of concern for the local environment after traffic, air pollution, landscape conservation and waste management. Other studies show that 20% of the European population (around 80 million people) are exposed to continuous daytime noise, mainly caused by traffic, that exceeds the level considered as the “tolerable limit” for individuals, 65 dB(A). Another 40% (about 170 million people) are exposed to noise levels between 55 and 65 decibels, which is considered to be the ‘attention value’ range at which serious daytime disturbances can occur. Approximately 25% of the EU population – according to the Proposal for a European Directive on Environmental Noise of 2000 – suffers a deterioration in their quality of life due to annoyance and between 5% and 15% have serious sleep disturbances due to noise. For years, the problem of noise pollution has been underestimated as less important than air pollution, water pollution and waste management. In addition, little attention has been paid to the nature of the effects of noise pollution, which are hidden and undetectable, unlike other forms of environmental pollution. In this report, the effects of exposure to excessive noise levels on humans are analysed, following a review of EU regulations and national and regional noise legislation, with a particular focus on the situation in the city of Rome.


Chapter 1. EU and national legislation on noise pollution
1. Introduction
2. Community provisions on noise pollution
3. Italian legislation on noise pollution
4. The Lazio Region legislation on noise pollution
5. Some data on noise pollution monitoring

Chapter 2. Damage from exposure to noise
1. Noise exposure in the workplace: occupational diseases and regulations
2. The harmful effects of noise on physical, psychological and social well-being
3. Costs. The economic assessment of noise damage

Chapter 3. Territorial aspects of noise pollution
1. Noise pollution in the municipality of Rome
2. Noise pollution monitoring in the municipality of Rome
3. The Roman Anti-Noise Committee: the difficulties of citizens affected by noise
4. Transport policies and noise pollution

Chapter 4. Damage Assessment in the City of Rome
1. Characteristics of the survey
2. Survey of experts and specialists
2.1. The peculiarities, sources and risks of noise pollution
2.2. Noise pollution in the city of Rome
2.3. Measures to reduce noise pollution
2.4. Citizens’ awareness
3. Survey addressed to local administrators and interested segments of the population of the I Municipality
3.1. Methodology and survey plan
3.2. Results analysis
4. Final considerations

Chapter 5. Conclusions
Annexe 1. In-depth interviews with experts and specialists
Annexe 2. Interview questionnaires


Noise pollution is the fifth most important source of concern for the local environment

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