Estonia is the quietest nation in the European Union, according to a recent report.
The data, published late last week by the European Environment Agency in a report entitled "Environmental Noise in Europe - 2020", found that a combination of high urbanization with an exposure to an EU average level of road traffic noise level experienced by only a minority of the populace in Estonia, contributed to Estonia's relatively peaceful environment.
Close to 23 percent of the population lives in areas where road traffic noise exceeds 55 decibels year-round – an average level in the EU – according to an environment ministry press release, meaning the remainder do not experience such levels. At the same time, only 0.5 percent of the populace lives outside densely populated areas, according to the environment ministry. In short, the vast majority of people in Estonia live in high-density accommodation areas, but the majority of these experience lower-than-average noise pollution by the EU's figures.
Reet Pruul, chief specialist at the Ministry of the Environment's air and radiation department, said that long-term exposure to environmental noise affects physical and mental health and well-being as a whole.
"Environmental noise is a widespread problem in Europe - at least one person in five is exposed to levels that are harmful to health," Pruul said.
The European Environment Agency report also found that long-term exposure to environmental noise in the EU causes 12,000 premature deaths and 48,000 new cases of coronary heart disease each year.
An estimated 22 million people are affected by noise, with 6.5 million suffer from chronic sleep disorders resulting from noise, the report found.
Noise also harms the natural world, including causing terrestrial and marine biota reproductive problems, increased mortality risk, and abnormal migration, resulting in a decrease in population density of a variety of species, according to the press release.
The study's findings and conclusions were based on strategic noise maps prepared in 2017 covering major conurbations, major roads, railways, airports and ports.
The report provides an assessment of public exposure to environmental noise and related impacts, based on new World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines on environmental noise in the European region.
The full report in English is here.
Editor: Andrew Whyte