Development of WHO Environmental noise guidelines for the European Region

WHO/Europe is currently in the process of developing the WHO Environmental Noise Guidelines for the European Region as a regional update to the WHO Community Noise Guidelines. The Guidelines will include a review of evidence on the health effects of environmental noise to incorporate significant research carried out in the last years.  The health outcomes for which the evidence will be systematically reviewed include: sleep disturbance, annoyance, cognitive impairment, mental health and wellbeing, cardiovascular diseases, hearing impairment and tinnitus and adverse birth outcomes.

The guidelines will assess several environmental noise sources such as aircraft, rail, road, wind turbines and personal electronic devices. The document will also consider specific settings such as residences, hospitals, educational settings and public venues.  In addition, the guidelines will review the evidence on health benefits from noise mitigation and interventions to decrease noise levels.

The process of developing the guidelines is complex, involving the work of top scientists from across the world under the coordination of WHO. 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.

The 2002 EU Directive introduced annual average indicators of noise exposure (Lden and Lnight) as long-term exposure indicators, which differ from those used in the earlier WHO Guidelines for Community Noise of 1999.