Authors: Enda Murphy and Eoin A. King
Publisher: Elsevier – Science – 268 pages
Book Review by: Venkat Subramaniam

Most of us treat noise as an unavoidable annoyance of modern life, but the authors of this book Enda Murphy and Eoin King, point out that it has been documented that prolonged exposure to noise leads to:

  • Hearing impairment
  • Cognitive difficulties
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Cardiovascular diseases

They also write that clear links have been established between exposure to noise and health effects. The World Health Organization recently estimated that more than one million healthy life years are lost each year from traffic-related noise in Western Europe.

Also, the “social cost” of noise from road and rail in the European Union has been estimated at about 40 billion Euros per year.

“Environmental noise pollution is considered to be one of the most important environmental stressors affecting public health throughout the world,” the authors point out

Currently there is no “adequate reference” on noise pollution that is available to specialists (e.g. researchers and other professionals) as well as accessible to students, policy makers and non specialists. Murphy and King hope that this book will fill that need.

In this relatively short, 268-page book, the authors give us an overview of what environmental noise is, its principles, its adverse effects on our health, the kinds of noise there are out there in the developed world (with a focus on Western Europe), what are the ways we can use to mitigate noise, and what course of action and precautions we must take, to reduce noise in the future.

So here below is an overview of the book’s contents as gleaned from the titles of its eight chapters:

  1. Environmental Noise Pollution
  2. Principles of Environmental Noise
  3. Environmental Noise and Health
  4. Strategic Noise Mapping
  5. Transportation Noise
  6. Industrial and Construction Type Noise
  7. Noise Mitigation Approaches
  8. Conclusions and Future Directions

What is new in this book and what makes it different from others on the subject of noise population? This book is unique in these distinct ways:

  • It lists the major sources of noise pollution
  • It points out and emphasizes the negative health implications
  • It discusses the role of strategic noise mapping for problem assessment
  • It enumerates steps toward mitigating noise
  • It stresses the importance of initiating public directives and procedures to lessen noise
  • It acts as a benchmark across disciplinary, policy, and national boundaries
  • It provides a reference guide for all the main sources of environmental noise and how they can be assessed and managed

What are some of the benefits of using this book? They are that it:

  • Highlights recent developments in the policy arena with particular focus on developments in the EU within the context of the European Noise Directive
  • Explores the lessons emerging from nations within the EU and other jurisdictions attempting to legislate and mitigate against the harmful effects of noise pollution
  • Cover the core theoretical concepts and principles surrounding the mechanics of noise pollution as well as the evidence base linking noise with public health concerns

This is an important, unique book that bridges the gap between data and action – between what is known about, and what needs to be done, to reduce noise pollution.


Enda Murphy is with University College in Dublin, Ireland.

Eoin King is with the University of Hartford in Hartford, Connecticut.