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Environmental Noise and the CNOSSOS-EU initiative

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JRC-IHCP activities on the development and harmonisation of noise assessment methods

environmental noise - Copyright JRC-IHCP 2010We are subjected to noise in the street, at work and even at home. The source may be pneumatic drills, trucks, cars or over-flying aircraft, or might come from natural sources. Prolonged exposure, it is now recognised, can lead to significant health affects, both physical and mental.

The EU’s Environmental Noise Directive 2002/49/EC, adopted in 2002, sets out to monitor noise pollution and develop long-term policies for noise reduction from source. In 2009, the European Commission decided to develop a common methodology aimed at obtaining comparable figures on traffic (road, railway, aircraft) and industrial noise; again, in June 2011, a report on the implementation of the Environmental Noise Directive identified a number of achievements and remaining challenges for its implementation.

The Joint Research Centre, Institute for Health and Consumer Protection (JRC-IHCP) plays an important role in providing technical support for the implementation of the Directive. Its activities focus on the development and harmonisation of noise assessment methods, based on state-of-the-art scientific and technical know-how, in collaboration with experts nominated by the EU Member States, the European Environmental Agency (EEA), the European Aviation Safety Agency, and the World Health Organisation Europe. This process, which is known as CNOSSOS-EU, is coordinated by the JRC-IHCP.

As a result of this close collaboration, three main instruments were made available to policy makers and the stakeholders' community:

As soon as CNOSSOS-EU is put in place, refinement and harmonisation of ways of assessing noise across the EU, as well as a common methodological framework, will allow to

  • enhance the comparability of noise exposure data across Europe
  • facilitate the assessment of the associated health implications for the EU citizens.

The European Commission, the European Environmental Agency and the Member States will co-operate in the implementation of CNOSSOS-EU during 2012-2015, with the view to making it operational for the next round of EU-wide strategic noise mapping, foreseen for 2017.

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