Joint Research Centre - European Commission

The European Commission's in-house science service
European Commission

photo of road traffic

Noise is a serious environmental risk to public health, especially in urban areas © EU, 2012

Harmonised European approach will help to reduce noise exposure


The JRC has published today a report with new Common Noise Assessment Methods (CNOSSOS-EU) that will enable the production of comparable data on noise exposure from road, rail, air traffic and industry in Europe. This is a prerequisite for the effective implementation of the EU policy on noise that aims to reduce noise pollution, a growing health and economic concern. Member States will have to start using the new methods for the next round of EU-wide strategic noise mapping in 2017. 

This common framework for noise assessment methods will allow comparable and reliable information to be gathered on noise levels and the associated health implications to which EU citizens are exposed. It will also help facilitate appropriate action plans to prevent and reduce exposure to harmful levels of noise in a sustainable way. The social costs of traffic, rail and road noise across the European Union were recently estimated at € 40 billion per year, equivalent to 0.35% of the EU's GDP.

The Environmental Noise Directive, introduced in 2002, requires Member States to determine the exposure to environmental noise through strategic noise mapping and elaborate action plans for noise reduction. The first EU-wide noise mapping exercise in 2007 found considerable differences in assessment methods, data collection and quality. The European Commission therefore decided in 2009 to develop a common methodology to obtain comparable figures.

CNOSSOS-EU was developed by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) based on state of the art scientific and technical know-how and in collaboration with experts nominated by the EU Member States, the European Environmental Agency, the European Aviation Safety Agency, and the World Health Organisation Europe.