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Filed under: Environment Health Human rights

This post was originally published on the UNDP site in Montenegro

noise pollution - airplane flying over houses

Noise pollution – how does it affect your health?

How often have you had to close the window in your office or home because of loud traffic, or hammering from a nearby construction site? How often have you been kept awake due to loud music coming from a pub in your neighbourhood?

Environmental noise is perceived as a major environmental problem in the European Union (EU) and studies from the European Environment Agency are discussing the impact of noise exposure and potential effects to human health.

In the European Union alone around 20 percent of its population (close to 80 million people) suffer from noise levels that scientists and health experts consider to be unacceptable.

Noise is an important part of the EU environmental acquis. For Montenegro, a candidate for EU membership, it is a development issue for two reasons:

  1.  The EU Progress Report 2012 for Montenegro specifically mentions noise: “… some progress was made in the area of noise through the adoption of a rulebook on limit values for noise in the environment.”
  2. Excessive noise remains the most often cited tourist complaint (in Montenegrin) in the country, especially on the coast.

UNDP is working with the Government of Montenegro to assist municipalities to take important steps to manage this challenge.

The specific focus is on the preparation of local acoustic maps that will define zones with various permitted levels of noise pollution.

But how do we get information about noise pollution and how do we efficiently monitor its intensity?

We don’t want to reinvent the wheel, so we’re going to borrow a fantastic project from our neighbors across the Adriatic Sea in Venice.

In short, a mobile application turns each citizen and tourist into a sensor that emits data on noise levels in their immediate proximity.

Put together with information from official monitoring stations, this crowdsourced data could enable more effective decision making and citizen engagement about environmental monitoring (not necessarily a cocktail party topic, is it?).

On 3 December, representatives from the Montenegrin Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism, the Agency for Environmental Protection of Montenegro and UNDP will meet in Podgorica to discuss what needs to happen for municipalities to start developing acoustic maps and managing noise pollution.

If you have done any work in regard to noise management, or you would like to get involved in some other way – please, let us know. We’d love to hear from you and partner up!