Noise pollution above the maximum immission values affects well-being and represents a significant health risk. In addition to stress, irritation, tension and nervousness, long-term noise pollution can also lead to physical problems such as raised heart rate and elevated blood pressure. For subjectively perceived noise pollution, not only volume, tone and impulsive characteristics are critical, but also individual factors such as attitude to the source of the noise, biological rhythms and social characteristics. The latter can only be accommodated to a limited degree in objective limit values.
In 2012, 29% of the population felt rather disturbed or greatly disturbed by road noise at home with a window open. In 2011 the figure was 23%. This percentage is clearly too high when possible damage to health and the limitations on quality of life associated with sustained noise pollution are considered. In cities in particular, further measures are necessary to reduce noise pollution: in this instance, 33% of people were affected by subjective noise pollution.
Although objective noise pollution is comparable in all three linguistic regions, pollution in French-speaking and Italian-speaking Switzerland is perceived to be worse than in German-speaking Switzerland: in these regions the percentage of people who feel disturbed is about 5 and 10% higher, respectively.
The data for 2011 are based on the survey entitled "Perception of environmental quality and environmental behaviour" by the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) and the data for 2012 on the "UNIVOX Environment" survey, carried out annually by the social research institute gfs-zürich. Both surveys were conducted by telephone on a random sample of the Swiss adult population and include a wide range of aspects regarding environmental pressures, environmental awareness, environment-related behaviour and lifestyle. With a sample of 5129 (FSO) and 1008 (gfs-zürich) people respectively, the surveys can be considered to be largely representative. This indicator includes all those surveyed who felt rather disturbed or greatly disturbed by traffic noise at home with a window open (answers 3 and 4 on a scale of 1: "not at all disturbed" to 5: "greatly disturbed").