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Core indicator People exposed to traffic noise

Noise is harmful to health, reduces the quality of life in the affected regions and also causes high economic costs. Road traffic is by far the greatest source of noise. Unlike railway and aircraft noise, road noise is not only a problem at the local level, but is also disseminated in the form of a noise carpet.
Assessment of the state: Symbol negative
Assessment of the trend: Symbol neutral
Source: Federal Office for the Environment: SonBase

Source: Federal Office for the Environment: SonBase


Around 1.6 million people – 1 person in 5 (21 percent) – are exposed to harmful or disturbing levels of traffic noise during the day, while the equivalent figure for nighttime exposure is 1 person in 6 (18 percent). Far fewer people are exposed to excessive railway (1.1 percent during the day and 2.3 percent at night) and aircraft (1 percent during the day, 1.5 percent at night) noise. Around 85 percent of people who are exposed to harmful or disturbing traffic noise live in towns or agglomerations.

Between 1985 and 2010, 1,622 million Swiss francs were spent on road noise abatement, while in the period from 1985 to 2012, 1,144 million Swiss francs were spent on reducing railway noise. Most of this funding was spent on measures to prevent noise transmission (use of noise prevention barriers) and on the insulation of buildings (installation of sound-insulating windows). Consistent investment in measures to reduce noise emitted by vehicles was limited to railway rolling stock. Thus the objective with respect to noise abatement, namely protection of the population against harmful or disturbing noise, was only partially achieved. In view of this, the status has to be assessed as negative.

In order to provide the degree of protection for the population that is stipulated in the Federal Constitution, noise will have to be combated through measures directly at source to an increasing extent. In the area of road transport, the greatest noise abatement effects can be achieved through the use of low-noise road surfaces and quieter tyres, and by optimising traffic flows and adapting speed limits at the local level. To more effectively reduce railway noise, the federal government is already focusing its funding on measures at source and supporting investment in quieter rolling stock. The anticipated technological progress relating to noise protection measures is likely to be offset by increasing urbanisation, the constantly growing demand for mobility and the trend towards a 24-hour society. In view of this, the trend has to be assessed as neutral.

sonBASE is a tool for calculating road noise emissions on the basis of available fundamental data (official geodata, statistics, traffic data, etc.). In the noise calculation module (CadnaA) the degree of dissemination and the resulting ambient noise levels are then calculated with the aid of a digital height model, the available building data, emission data (road noise) and a noise map (railway noise). With respect to aircraft noise, the available measurements at civil airports and military airfields are adopted as ambient noise levels. The basis for assessing the number of people exposed to road, rail and aircraft noise is the exposure limit level specified in the Swiss Federal Noise Abatement Ordinance (SR 814.41) in relation to the defined sensitivity levels (SL I to IV).

Contact: info@bafu.admin.ch
Last updated on: 28.04.2014

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