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March 06, 2007

Let's party

City authorities in Copenhagen are considering a proposal to turn up the volume and the party mood in the inner city of the Danish capital on a trial basis. The idea is to make Copenhagen more attractive to party minded tourists. But numerous studies have shown that loud noise may damage the general well-being of people affected and in some cases their hearing, as well.

More and more people feel the adverse effects of increasing noise in many large cities.

In Spain, The High Court in Barcelona found an operator of a bar and restaurant guilty of noise pollution and sentenced him to four years in prison. In Germany, surveys show that three Germans in four say they feel adversely affected by noise.

But Copenhagen is moving in a different direction. The city authorities have proposed that current noise regulations be suspended temporarily. The object is to improve the nightlife for the residents as well as for visitors.

Throughout the trial period in 2007 extended partying will be permitted in selected zones without the interference of unhappy neighbours. Only in extreme cases of excessive noise will the environmental regulators take action.

Noise can be harmful

While the professional association of the hotel and restautant industry is pleased, the proposal is less than popular among the neighbours of the selected zones. The neighbours fear that the new regulations will result in more noise, and the number of noise complaints is expected to go up.

Studies show that noise greatly influences the well-being of those affected:

  • Approximately 450 million Europeans (65percent of the total population) are exposed to average noise levels of 55 dB which may cause discomfort and sleep disorders
  • 117 million (17percent of the population) are exposed to average noise levels of 65 dB which may affect physical and mental well-being
  • 9.7 million (1.4 percent) live in average daily noise levels of more than 75 dB, which is considered unacceptable by the European Environment Agency.

Source: Københavns Kommunes Teknik- og Miljøudvalg, January 24;, Jyllands-Posten, January 23, 2006; European Environment Agency (2001): Europe's Environment - The Dobris Assessment and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Akustik, Presseinformation PK 04/05

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