One in seven people in Switzerland has to put up with excessive noise pollution, particularly from road traffic, according the Federal Office for the Environment.
Some 1.1 million residents are exposed to traffic noise that exceeds legal limits, the office communicated on Monday. And when road noise levels die down at night, people face the disturbance of plane and train traffic, says the latest edition of a noise pollution study conducted every five years.
Railway noise affects 16,000 people during the day and 87,000 at night, while aircraft noise affects 24,000 people during the day and 75,000 people at night. Exposure to excessive noise can lead to health problems such as high blood pressure, coronary issues and depression.
The findings may run contrary to Switzerland’s international image as a peaceful, quiet country of mountains and lakes. But in cities and towns, the situation can be different: nine out of ten people affected by excessive noise live in built-up areas.
The situation has improved slightly thanks to noise reduction measures, says the environment office. These include noise dampening road surfaces and the promotion of peaceful rest areas throughout the country.
The previous time the survey was conducted, in 2012, 1.6 million people were affected by excessive road traffic noise. But the office cautions that direct comparisons are difficult as it changed its monitoring methods in the intervening period.
It warns that the problem of containing noise pollution will become harder as the population increases and concentrates in urban areas. Transportation networks will also have to scale up to meet such demographic demands.
The office therefore recommends that town planners take acoustic criteria into greater consideration in future. It put into place a noise pollution mitigation plan in mid-2017. Part of that plan involves working with transport manufacturers to ensure quieter trains and aircraft.