The Need for Transitioning to CNOSSOS-EU
It is now well established in academic literature that excessive environmental noise disturbs sleep and is a public health concern. If the disturbance is at a level that is severe enough, it can lead to sleep deprivation which can seriously affect the physical and mental health of an individual (Murphy, 2017). In the literature, annoyance and sleep disturbance are the main impacts of excessive environmental noise exposure and they can lead to, or be a trigger for, more serious health problems resulting from environmental noise (Murphy and King, 2014). Studies show that annoyance from transportation noise produces negative emotions including include anger, disappointment, unhappiness, anxiety and clinical depression (Miedema, 2003). A more serious public health concern is the link between excessive exposure and negative cardio-vascular outcomes (Babisch, 2006; Belojevic et al., 2008; Babisch, 2011).
The WHO (2011) estimate that 90,300 disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) in populations greater than 50,000 are lost to sleep disturbance as a result of environmental noise exposure in the EU. The European Environment Agency (EEA) estimates that almost 20 million adults are annoyed and a further 8 million suffer sleep disturbance due to environmental noise (EEA, 2014). The WHO’s seminal Burden of Disease from Environmental Noise study (WHO, 2011) concludes that one in three individuals in Europe is annoyed during the daytime and one in five has disturbed sleep at night, and that is from traffic noise alone (see also WHO, 2009). Swinburn et al.’s (2009) recent US study suggests that reducing environmental noise by 5dB would lead to estimated annual cost savings and productivity gains in the region of USD 3.9 billion; In the UK, it estimated that the annual social cost of urban road noise in England is £7 to 10 billion (Defra, 2013). This places it at a similar magnitude to road accidents (£9 billion) and significantly greater than the impact on climate change (£1 to 4 billion).
The WHO (2011) recently estimated that five noise-induced exposure impacts (annoyance, sleep disturbance, cardiovascular disease, tinnitus, and cognitive impairment in children) cumulatively result in the loss of approximately 805,300 healthy life years annually in Europe. This suggests that environmental noise is a significant pollutant with negative public health outcomes. In the EU, 52 million people are thought to be exposed to noise that is detrimental to their health and quality of life. This research addresses this significant environmental pressure by assisting with the implementation of the EU Environmental Noise Directive in 2022 under CNOSSOS-EU which attempts to understand the extent of the noise pollution problem in Europe and supply mitigation responses through noise action planning. Given that Ireland has a statutory obligation to meet the requirements of the Directive, it is a strategic national environmental priority. King and Murphy (2016) have shown that between the first and second round of noise mapping in Ireland the number of people exposed to noise above 55dB(A) Lden went from 1,092,500 to 809,200, a decrease of 283,300. This is not easy to explain given that only Dublin was mapped for the first round while Dublin and Cork was mapped for the second round. This suggests inconsistency in the methodologies used for estimating exposure and highlights the urgent need to develop a national implementation framework into the future that is reliable. Moreover, the proposal addresses the EPA’s thematic research priority area of health and well-being, in particular developing national capacity at the interface of health policy and environmental regulation, and contributing towards meeting Ireland's legislative obligations under EU law. In this regard, the current project directly addresses Ireland's obligations under the terms of the EU Environmental Noise Directive and Ireland's transposition of the Directive under Statutory instrument no.140 of 2006.
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