Sound versus noise

Sound is very important to people. It can be very pleasant if you are listening to nature or music, but can also be a real nuisance if it is persistently loud and unwanted. If sound is unwanted, we refer to it as noise. Noise in our residential environment can be annoying and disturb people's sleep.
 Sound can also lead to health issues, such as high blood pressure.

Noise pollution

Most noise is produced in the vicinity of roads, railways and near the arrival and departure flight paths at Schiphol. Road traffic causes the greatest noise pollution. Read more in the Environmental Data Compendium.


The government is trying to reduce noise pollution with specific measures, such as the installation of noise barriers along motorways, the insulation of homes and the tightening of noise requirements for new vehicles. Despite these measures, noise exposure has scarcely decreased. Above all this is due to the increase in road traffic and the expansion of the road network.

Take a look under Individual action for tips how you can best protect yourself against noise pollution and how you can reduce the amount of noise you make yourself.

Go to 'Maps' and enter your postcode to see how much traffic noise there is in your neighbourhood.

Here you can find a description of commonly used noise terms and definitions such as the calculation method, Article 110g, dB, Lden, Lnight, etc.

edited January 25th 2018


Noise in our residential environment can be annoying and disturb people's sleep. In the event of long-term noise pollution it is difficult to find rest and be able to relax. Continuous stress and sleep disturbance can lead to high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases. It may lead to a deterioration in the health of people who already suffer from cardiovascular problems. If children are exposed to noise at school, their performance may suffer.

In a pleasant sound environment there will be few loud noises. If there are no disturbing sounds outside, people will generally experience it as still or quiet. If the sound does disturb them, they will regard it as noise. Noise is sound that we do not want to hear. Whether the sound is actually noise depends on the person and the circumstances. No one will consider the occasional sound of a car to be very annoying. However, constant noise from busy roads is a primary source of nuisance.

To many people it is important to experience peace and quiet. There are indications that spending time at locations with relatively little or no unwanted noise is important for our health and well-being.


Road traffic is the main source of serious noise pollution, followed by air traffic and rail traffic (RIVM, 2011). These are the results of a nuisance survey in 2008. People were asked how annoying they considered a sound source to be on a scale from 0 (not annoying at all) to 10 (extremely annoying). People who indicated a 7 or higher were experiencing serious nuisance. Noise from mopeds caused the greatest nuisance.

Nuisance is a collective term for all kinds of negative responses, such as irritation, anger, helplessness and feeling exhausted.
The degree to which people experience nuisance is not only determined by how loud the noise is. Whether noise is experienced as annoying depends on the person and the circumstances. One example is irritation with the municipality's noise policy, the behaviour of moped users, fear and sensitivity to noise. In a peaceful suburb the same level of noise is much more annoying than in a busy town centre.

Sleep disturbance

Noise at night in our residential environment can disturb our sleep and make it difficult to get to sleep, wake us up during the night, or wake us up earlier than normal in the morning. Sleep disturbance can also lead to a bad mood, tiredness and a reduced ability to perform the following day. Approximately 3% of Dutch people experience serious sleep disturbance as a consequence of road traffic.

If you would like to find out more about the health effects of noise, please visit the Public health and health care website.

edited January 25th 2018

The Noise Abatement Act [Wet geluidhinder]

The Noise Abatement Act is intended to protect citizens against excessive noise. This act contains standards applicable to noise from road and rail traffic and businesses. Preferential values and maximum permissible threshold values apply for the noise exposure at the façades of homes, hospitals and schools (the so-called noise-sensitive locations). A distinction is made between existing and new situations. Tighter threshold values apply to new situations.

The noise exposure is expressed in Lden and Lnight. Lden (Lday evening night) gives the average noise exposure during a day. The Lden calculation attaches more weight to the evening exposure than the daytime period and more weight is again attached to the night-time exposure than exposure during the evening period. This is because noise in the evening and night causes more nuisance than during the day. The term Lnight is used for the average noise exposure from 23:00 to 07:00, but without the penalty factor for the night which is applied in the Lden calculation.

Specific measures

The government wants to reduce noise pollution and sleep disturbance with a number of specific measures, such as the encouragement of quieter (goods) trains, low-noise rails, the installation of noise barriers and home insulation.

Under the various tabs you can find all the relevant policy information about noise pollution caused by road traffic, rail traffic and air traffic. In the case of road traffic and rail traffic you can also find all the necessary information about SWUNG-1, SWUNG 2, and the EU Environmental Noise Directive.

If you would like to know more about the noise policy, please visit the central government website: Noise pollution in the law.

edited January 25th 2018

Tips to prevent noise pollution

Try to reduce noise and make less noise yourself:

  • Keep windows and doors closed on the side from which the noise is coming and open them on the quiet side of your house.
  • Sleep on the quiet side.
  • Home insulation, particularly façade insulation and double glazing, reduces noise from outside.
  • If you are unable to ventilate sufficiently due to the noise, you can purchase special ventilation grilles which allow air in but not noise.
  • Keep the volume of your music down, also when listening through headphones, because loud music will eventually damage your hearing.
  • Do not make unnecessary noise yourself and be considerate to your neighbours and others.
  • Buy quiet tyres for your car and drive smoothly.
  • Buy a quiet motor scooter or moped.
  • If you still suffer noise pollution, take action by engaging in a dialogue with the person causing the noise or submit a complaint to the responsible bodies or the police (see


Noisy neighbours guidelines

Noisy neighbours make home life difficult for many people in the Netherlands. The government has drawn up noisy neighbours guidelines to support intermediaries (municipality, police, landlords) with finding a solution. If you suffer from noisy neighbours at your place of work, you can read about measures in the guidelines which you can take to tackle the problem.

Although the information in the guidelines is intended for professionals, you can also use it if you have to endure noisy neighbours at home. You can study the measures and make a choice. You can also read about practical lessons first to find out how the issue is tackled from a variety of perspectives. Alternatively you can assess which measures are most suitable for your situation by means of tailor-made advice. To do so, you need to fill in a questionnaire.

You can find all the information about noise pollution and loud music on the Oorcheck website.

edited January 25th 2018