47,791 people in our country are exposed to excessive traffic noise in their homes at night. The homes of 40,433 are also exposed to such during the day.
This is according to the data of the Road Infrastructure Agency based on measurements made for the NOISE MAP OF the noisiest 1122 km sections of highways and roads through which OVER 3 MILLION VEHICLES PASS ANNUALLY.
The maximum average levels of noise entering people’s dwellings are by law 35 decibels during the day and 30 decibels at night. The data also show that 4,432 kindergartens, schools, and hospitals are exposed to vehicle noise levels above the norm during the day, and 4,250 at night.
According to the experts of the road agency, the main causes of excessive noise from highways and roads is the poor surface of a number of road sections, which have low indicators of noise transmission even at optimal vehicle speeds. The lack of a real technical study of the noise from the engine and exhaust of the old cars during the annual technical inspections of vehicles is also a problem. The increasing number of cars and the mass breaking of speed limits by offenders also have an impact.
Currently, 23 kilometers of noise protection devices have been installed on the roads in our country. They are built after periodic monitoring for noise and measurements in the sections with a traffic of more than 3 million vehicles per year. Noise measurements are also carried out based on received signals at the agency. However, it often turns out that there are no excessive noise levels. The main criteria to build noise protection walls somewhere are the level of exceeding the norms and the number of the affected population. However, the procedures are long and cumbersome, and those living near a number of areas with proven excessive noise, planned for noise reduction, continue to be harassed day and night years later.
This is the case with the Zelin villa area near Botevgrad, where the locals struggle unsuccessfully with the noise from the “Hemus” highway. “The first signature was from 20 years ago and the problem still hasn’t been solved,” Tsvetina Petkova, a civil activist who led the initiative to get rid of the noise, which led to signatures and several protests over the years, told the Telegraph. “Life in constant irritating noise is very unpleasant. The influence is harmful to health. People in Zelin go so far as to try to sell their properties, but no one wants to buy them because the noise problem is huge. For years we have been fighting for some noise protection panels, but in the end we always end up with promises that when the funding is available, they will be installed. But there is no funding and there will be none,” added Petkova. And the noise is getting louder because of the increasingly busy traffic of trucks on the autobahn.
In Zelin, however, they are finally on the way to realizing their dream, as the road agency has already announced a public order for the construction of noise protection walls there. In addition to Zelin, the road agency is working on the construction of noise protection facilities on 9 more sections of the republican road network – near the villages of Mirovo (Trakiya highway), Malo Buchino, Mursalevo (Struma highway), Tulovo (road E-85), Churek and “Makak” quarter in Shumen (Hemus AM), “Benkovski” quarter in Sofia (Northern expressway), Aksakovo (Varna-Dobrich road) and at the Language High School in Veliko Tarnovo. It is expected that by the middle of 2024, people in Zelin and all other sections will receive noise protection. The project for the construction of noise protection in two sections of the “Struma” highway near the “Church” district in Pernik is also at an advanced stage. There is also the longest section to be silenced in our country – 1859 m. The project is at the stage of consideration of offers from the contractors. The noise protection panels will be made of polycarbonate or aluminum.
Prolonged humming breaks the heart and psyche
A noise of 50 dB irritates and distracts, and over 70 dB is hard to bear, experts from the Executive Agency “Environment” told “Telegraph”. According to them, noise pollution adversely affects the whole organism. The effect on the body can be expressed in nervous exhaustion and heart problems such as palpitations and high blood pressure. Changes in the amount of blood sugar, an increase in the basic metabolism and retention of water in the body are also possible. The influence on the psyche is in the form of memory disturbances, irritability, sleep disturbances, feelings of restlessness, depression and deterioration of the ability to work and communicate with others.