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EU rules to reduce and regulate environmental noise to protect human health.


Environmental noise, also known as noise pollution, is a major environmental health concern in Europe. It is caused by various sources including road, rail and airport traffic, industry and construction. Environmental noise can be substantially reduced by implementing cost-effective measures.

Environmental noise is the second biggest environmental cause of health problems after air pollution (the fine particulate matter in air), according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Prolonged exposure to noise can lead to serious illnesses including

  • cardiovascular diseases
  • reduced cognitive performance in children
  • severe annoyance, which is a form of stress
  • sleep disturbance
  • tinnitus

The effects of noise exposure  is also costly for our economy, as it leads to less productive working days, burdens healthcare systems and reduces the value of properties.

EU noise policy aims to monitor and tackle environmental noise in Europe to help achieve the zero pollution vision for 2050. EU rules address noise pollution from the main sources, outdoor noise sources, as well as underwater noise affecting sea animals.

In the EU

12 000
premature deaths caused by long-term exposure to environmental noise
22 million
people suffer chronic high annoyance
12 500
schoolchildren suffer learning impairment in school caused by aircraft noise


The EU aims to reduce environmental noise to protect human health. EU policies ensure that information on environmental noise and its effects is easily available to Europeans.

The EU has also harmonised the procedures to assess human health effects and prepare noise action plans, even if there is no set EU reduction objective.

The European Commission proposed a policy target of reducing the share of people chronically disturbed by transport noise by 30% by 2030 in the Zero Pollution Action Plan.

Specific policies

EU rules to reduce underwater noise under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive.

Tools and instruments

Related links


For questions about EU environmental policy, please contact Europe Direct.