A study published by the sustainable transport campaign group Transport and Environment (T&E) said noise from rail and roads is linked to a further 200,000 cases of heart disease in Europe.

Close to half of all Europeans are regularly exposed to traffic noise pollution that is potentially dangerous to health, the organisation said.

The World Health Organisation says 55 decibels is the level at which environmental noise begins to have negative health effects.

T&E’s study said that about 210m EU residents are regularly expose to road noise at or above this level, and 35m to the same level of rail noise.

Nina Renshaw, noise policy officer at T&E, said: “Unlike air pollution, which most major European cities are now starting to tackle, noise has been ignored for decades as the problem has worsened and the negative impacts of society have increased.”

The study estimates that traffic noise pollution costs societies at least Euro 40bn a year, including health care costs.

It called for the EU to introduce legislation to reduce tyre noise limits to an effective level of 71 decibels by 2012, to be reduced further by 2016, and the introduction of a European standard for road surfaces based on noise performance.

Environmental Protection UK, formerly the NSCA, has backed the publication of the study, which has come shortly before the first noise maps of England and Wales are set to be produced.

“The publication of this report is opportune,” said noise policy officer Mary Stevens.

“We hope this research will encourage Government to accelerate integrated action towards managing transport noise – the pollutant that has an immediate effect on the quality of life of everyone.”

Kate Martin

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