External noise-related costs
Excessive noise is harmful to health. However, the associated costs – for example, for medical treatment – are not covered by those who cause the noise (road users, etc.), but instead have to be borne by those whose health is damaged by it. The same applies to the reduced value of properties due to excessive noise – here, it is the owners who have to bear the losses. Costs that are not borne by those who cause them are referred to as “external costs”.
External road, railway and air traffic noise costs in Switzerland amount to more than 2.6 billion Swiss francs a year. Due to a change in the methodology used, this value is not directly comparable with those recorded in previous years. However, the rising trend that emerged in the preceding years continues. For this reason the development is assessed as negative.
Direct harm to health accounts for approximately 55% of these costs (especially ischaemic heart diseases, health problems associated with high blood pressure, out-patient treatment, hospitalisation, reduction of life expectancy, etc.). The remaining 45% of the costs are attributable to loss of value of real estate. Road transport accounts for 80% of the overall noise-related costs.
Financial incentives from which those who cause noise can benefit if they reduce noise levels are the most suitable method of reducing external costs. Other instruments such as increasing market transparency are also feasible, alongside financial incentives such as oil tax and noise-related take-off and landing charges.
- Related indicators
- Noise impacts on health
International studies of external costs have been carried out in other European countries. The external noise-related costs are significantly higher in Switzerland than in other European countries. This difference is largely attributable to the high population density and high price level in Switzerland.
External noise-related costs are mainly calculated with the aid of hedonic pricing methodologies. For the monetarisation of direct harm to health the following impacts are taken into account:
- Costs of medical treatment (hospitalisation, visits to doctors, medicaments)
- Loss of production (absence of employees)
- Costs of replacing deceased employees
- Intangible costs (loss of wellbeing; pain and suffering on the part of affected persons, identified via willingness of the population to pay).
Basis for monetarisation is a study carried out in Switzerland in 2010 concerning exposure to road and railway noise, plus the Swiss noise database, sonBASE.