Associate professor of Environmental Health at the University of Tartu Hans Orru said living in a constantly noisy environment, such as Tallinn or Tartu, can cause significant sleep and heart issues, even on smaller streets.
Estonia is hit by noise from many vehicles such as trains and ships, but according to Orru, the most problematic is the amount of noise caused by cars, as it affects the largest number of people.
Orru said: "Hearing loss is the main issue we associate with noise, but actually disturbance - feeling uncomfortable can cause many different reactions. For example, your heart starts beating faster or you can not get enough sleep."
He added that there are thousands of people in Tallinn and Tartu, who are disturbed by the noise and can not sleep.
Noise from cars can cause heart disease. "Not for everyone, but more than 100 people in Tallinn yearly," the scientist said.
Compared to Tallinn, Tartu is a quiter city. "There are more problems with railway noise as the tracks go through the city," Orru said, adding that car traffic has increased considerably in Tartu.
The noisiest locations are major streets, such as Tallinn's Pärnu maantee or Sõpruse puiestee. But noise is not exclusive to large roads as noise on smaller streets can also disturb people, according to Orru.
"If your house is close to a road, the noise levels there can be higher than in a taller building on the side of a major road," the environmental health specialist said.
Orru added that it seems as if decisions are headed toward accepting life in noisy environments. "We are building more and more roads to fit more and more cars, but some countries - speaking of the Netherlands and Denmark - chose a different path decades ago to ride more bicycles," he said.
The associate professor noted: "Our electric bikeshare project in Tartu has become very succesful. It is slightly simpler to ride an electric bicycle than a regular one. The more of those people, the more dare to take it up themselves."
Orru hopes Estonia is headed toward designing a quiter city. "It seems at times that the direction is not one we want to see as public health scientists," the University of Tartu professor concluded.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste