which are the noisiest European cities?

Number of inhabitants per square meter, air and rail traffic, number of people exposed to the noise of cars and two-wheelers, congestion rate… By analyzing a wide variety of criteria, the British financial product comparison site “Money” has compiled a ranking of the noisiest big cities in Europe. Bad news: the first place goes to Paris.

In the French capital, more than 5.5 million inhabitants are exposed to road traffic noise and 842,000 to rail traffic noise. In addition, Paris has a road congestion rate of 39%, the highest in Europe, resulting in higher noise pollution than in some other large cities in neighboring countries.

Paris therefore obtains a “noise score” of 8.4/10 according to “Money”. London comes just behind the French capital, with a score of 8.2/10. Although the British capital is more densely populated, fewer people are exposed to noise from road and rail transport. On the other hand, Londoners are more bothered than Parisians by air traffic. London is indeed the city in Europe where air traffic is the densest.

Rome completes the podium of the noisiest major European cities, with a much better score (4.96/10) than Paris and London. If the capital of Italy has a high level of road congestion (38%), “only” 1.7 million people are exposed to noise pollution from road traffic and 136,000 to noise from rail traffic.

Madrid then Barcelona complete the “top 5”, as can be seen in the graph below.

At the bottom of the ranking, we find Oslo, Hanover and Düsseldorf, which are the least noisy cities studied, according to “Money”.

Paris, the only French city in the ranking

If Paris holds the rope, it is however the only French city present in this ranking. Eight German cities and five British cities, on the other hand, are among the 23 noisiest large European cities.

Noise pollution, a health risk

In cities where noise pollution is high, the health of the inhabitants is more likely to be tested, according to the World Health Organization. The WHO has ranked noise as the second cause of ill health in Western Europe, just behind fine particle pollution. According to the organisation, one in five Europeans is regularly exposed to sound levels that can damage their health.

As the European Environment Agency (EEA) reminds us, prolonged exposure to environmental noise can lead to harmful metabolic and cardiovascular effects, can reduce the cognitive functions of children or even cause significant sleep problems.

Thus, “long-term exposure to noise pollution is suspected of causing 12,000 premature deaths and 48,000 new cases of ischemic heart disease” each year in Europe. In Europe, 6.5 million people also suffer from sleep disturbance due to noise, according to the EEA.

Moreover, the French capital is not always the worst student if we isolate the criteria taken into account to establish the ranking. Thus, London remains the noisiest capital relative to the noise caused by its population. It is indeed the most densely populated city studied. London is also the most polluted by noise from air traffic while in terms of noise pollution and hearing loss, the first place goes to Barcelona and its “medieval quarters, allowing noise to reflect in its narrow streets”, specifies “Money”. Paris wins the prize for road and rail noise.

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