The Cost of Noise in France by Silvia Romanelli

In October 2021, the French Agency for Ecological Transition (ADEME) published a report highlighting the huge impact of noise on people’s health in France. According to the report, noise in France has a global cost of 147,1 billion euros per year, the majority of which is due to transport: rail, road and air transport.

Exposition to noise has consequences on health, ranging from sleep disturbances to diabetes, and is responsible for 622,797 years of healthy life lost each year in France alone – a number inconceivable for a human mind.

Noise has also negative consequences on natural ecosystems and on biodiversity, but their cost cannot yet be estimated due to a lack of data and research. Once included, our “noise bill” could be much higher.

The report’s findings really spoke to me because at the time I used to live in the broad Paris area, where noise pollution is particularly heavy. The situation I was experiencing is common to many people, but - unlike air pollution – it is rarely perceived as a problem, as we gradually got accustomed to noise in urban areas.

Raising awareness about noise pollution is the main purpose of this visualization, which I decided to focus on the main source of noise: transportation.

I extracted the data from the report’s pdf tables, then I used Tableau, Charticulator and Illustrator to create the visualization. I relied upon a friend who’s an acoustics engineer to help me fully understand how sound is measured.

In terms of design, I used a slightly unpleasant green to mimic the unpleasant feeling of noise – a feeling which I tried to wave away through the process of visualization.