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The hectic traffic situation in Paris could have a major negative health impact on citizens

Here are Europe's noisiest cities

Here are Europe's noisiest cities

Noise pollution can have a major impact on citizens’ health and be a cause of anything from hearing loss to cognitive impairment in children

Recently, the British-based financial service provider money.co.uk published a ranking of European cities based on the noise level. The ranking itself looks at the number of people, exposed to dangerous sound levels. Experts take population density into account, as well as the Mimi noise pollution score, land and air traffic and congestion.

According to the ranking Paris is the loudest city in Europe, followed by London and Rome

While the enormous concentration of people, jobs and connections is one of the main draws of European cities, it can also have damaging effects on people’s health. According to the European Environment Agency, road and rail traffic is one of the biggest contributors to the most severe consequences of noise pollution.

Peace and quiet are vital

Cities are loud and they can be literally deafening. All the cars, low flying aircraft, trains, expressways, incessant low-humming fans, congested traffic lanes and the sheer number of densely packed people are the source of enormous levels of noise pollution.

In fact, according to the European Environment Agency (EEA), it remains a major health risk for millions of people. Long-term exposure to high levels of noise pollution can cause a plethora of conditions, like Noise-Induced Hearing Loss, sleep deprivation, increased levels of stress, higher blood pressure, and cognitive impairment in children.

According to an EEA article from 2020, the current data suggests that noise contributes to 48,000 new cases of heart disease a year as well as 12,000 premature deaths in Europe. Additionally, they estimate that around 22 million people suffer chronic high annoyance and 6.5 million people suffer chronic high sleep disturbance. Aircraft noise, in its own right, is linked to 12,500 cases of school children suffering from reading impairment in school.

The methodology 

The authors at money.co.uk looked at 23 cities and compiled the data on people per square mile, Mimi noise pollution score, Air traffic passengers (2019), People exposed to road traffic noise, Congestion levels, People exposed to railway traffic noise for an overall Noise score.

Generally, noises over 55dB are considered dangerous. With that in mind, they also considered congestion levels, like the rumbling of engines as one of the main sources of noise pollution. At the same time, living near an airport or a busy railway station can be a complete nightmare, with vibrations so intense they can shake furniture. 

Mimi, on the other hand, is a Berlin-based research group focused on sound and sound quality. They publish a Worldwide Hearing Index based on noise pollution and hearing loss.

The densest cities by population and the highest levels of ground and air traffic, naturally, expose the most people to the most noise.

Paris is a major rail and air hub, with the Paris Metro being one of the busiest in the world. The French capital is truly a global city and a transit hub for millions of people where the soundscape is rife with honks, shouts, trains, bells and crowds packing into cafes, bars and terraces.

Europe’s noisiest cities

Hence, here are the top 10 most polluted cities in Europe, according to Money.co.uk:

  1. Paris, France – overall score – 8.40;
  2. London, United Kingdom – overall score – 8.21;
  3. Rome, Italy – overall score – 4.96;
  4. Madrid, Spain – overall score – 4.69;
  5. Barcelona, Spain – overall score – 4.55;
  6. Manchester, United Kingdom - overall score – 4.40;
  7. Vienna, Austria– overall score – 4.33;
  8. Berlin, Germany – overall score – 3.66;
  9. Birmingham, United Kingdom - overall score – 3.64;
  10. Milan, Italy – overall score – 3.41.

The full ranking includes an evaluation of 23 cities from across the continent.

This article has been updated.

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