Noise Perception and Annoyance

Austria, Graz – Over the last three months, an online questionnaire on noise annoyance and noise sensitivity has been circulated in several European countries. The questionnaire concerns demographic variables, aspects of the living environment, noise annoyance and noise sensitivity globally and separately for three everyday activities (habitation, sleep, work). The purpose of the survey is to relate noise load (LDEN), as provided by noise maps, to annoyance, noise sensitivity and demographic variables like age and gender.

Mid June 2007, 2046 persons from 14 European countries had filled in the questionnaire. 74% of them live in a side street, with an average living duration of about 11 years, and 88% report no hearing problems. On average, respondents from Germany and Poland reported a higher degree of noise annoyance than participants from Italy and other countries. This corresponds to the result that 53% of the German and 49% of the Polish participants live in (rather, very) noisy areas, while this is true for 40% of Italian respondents and 44% from other countries.

The most annoying noise source is road traffic. 52% reported to be at least moderately annoyed by it, 16% by railway noise. 28% judged road traffic noise as very or extremely annoying, while 7% reported to be very or extremely annoyed by railway noise. With regard to road traffic noise, the three mainly investigated countries Germany, Italy and Poland do not differ from each other. Respondents from Poland differ from others in terms of higher railway noise annoyance. Judgements on annoyance are strongly associated with ratings on the noisiness of the residential area.

As expected, the higher the subjective noise level, the higher is the noise annoyance. Annoyance is also correlated with the personal trait ‘noise sensitivity’. In comparison to less sensitive persons, participants who are generally more sensitive to noise, reported higher noise annoyance – overall and due to road traffic. In particular, ‘habitation’ followed by ‘sleep’ have an influence on annoyance, whereas the sensitivity aspect ‘work’ is only weakly associated with noise annoyance at home. Judgements of noisiness, annoyance and noise sensitivity concern different aspects of noise perception. Whereas both noise sensitivity and noisiness are associated with noise annoyance, noisiness of the residential area as a situational factor and sensitivity to noise as a personal trait, are not related to each other.

The survey will be continued. SILENCE city partners have been invited to take part in the survey and promote the study locally. The next step will be to collect data on noise exposure from noise maps for each respondent and to relate them to the subjective data.

The questionnaire is available at

Auteur: Redactie Infrasite

Bron: SILENCE project organization