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Environmental Noise Exposure and public health as an important parameter of evaluation in Strategic Noise Maps and Noise Action Plans

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prof. Konstantinos Vogiatzis, University of Thessaly, Greece


The aim of Directive 2002/49/EC is to define a common approach intended to avoid, prevent or reduce on a prioritized basis the harmful effects, including annoyance, due to exposure to environmental noise. According to Article 6, such harmful effects may be assessed by means of the dose-effect relationships referred to in Annex III of the Directive. Furthermore, in October 2018 the World Health Organization (WHO) – Regional office for Europe – published the WHO Environmental noise guidelines for the European Region, presenting dose-effect relationships in many health issues such as sleep disturbance, annoyance and cardiovascular diseases. The report is the result of the joint efforts of a team of researchers covering all aspects of negative health effects due to environmental noise exposure. These guidelines are to provide recommendations for protecting human health from exposure to environmental noise originating from various sources and their use within the execution of both Strategic Noise Maps (SNMs) and Noise Action Plans (NAPs) is quite interesting.

EU's Member States are currently in the stage of redrafting the Annex III of the Directive in order to define the harmful effects due to environmental noise on human health, also introducing the appropriate assessment method and evaluation tools.

This Topical Issue aims to evaluate, through a multidisciplinary approach, how the environmental noise data are cross-analyzed with health perception descriptors by inhabitants, in the context of the SNM and NAP execution. In particular it aims to suggest the appropriate tools to be implemented in NAPs developed by public authorities.

Another aim of the Topical Issue is to open a discussion on the necessary development of this approach to reduce noise exposure problems, as well as to assist the cities in their evolution towards the introduction of a sustainable urban sound environment. Hence studies concerning the proposal of innovative comprehensive methods in order to complete the SNMs, introducing a series of layers focusing on the reduction of negative effects in human health, are encouraged. The cross-analysis enables to update the NAPs towards the rehabilitation of a sustainable and healthy sound environment.