Noise pollution: Road traffic 'first culprit', survey shows

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Road traffic is perceived as the most annoying source of noise pollution by residents of EU urban areas, a survey conducted in the framework of a European research project has concluded. 

The overall objective of the SILENCE project is to develop methods for noise abatement and therefore significantly reduce Europeans' exposure to noise, particularly in urban areas. The survey, conducted online, examines how noise is perceived by urban residents. 

The first results of this survey revealed that 61% of people living in metropolitan areas are annoyed by traffic noise. Of these, 32% said they were "very" or "extremely" annoyed.

The most irritating noise source reported to date is road traffic, with 52% of people polled expressing their annoyance, while only 16% complained about railway noise. The study also found that noise annoyance perceived is significantly influenced by an individual's noise sensitivity.

Noise can cause sleep disturbance and impair people's learning, motivation and problem-solving abilities. An estimated 1,800 early deaths - mostly in urban areas - are said to be attributable to excessive noise, which is thus considered as one of the sources of urban-area pollution. 

The Commission will, in September 2007, adopt a Green Paper on urban transport to look into the best way to deal with growing congestion and pollution problems in European cities. 

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