Noise Assessment and Noise Abatement

Contents of this page:

Noise level guideline values

In Finland, noise level guideline values (the national guideline values) are used to prevent noise pollution and to ensure a comfortable environment. The guideline values are given separately for both outdoor noise and indoor noise. It should be noted that the guideline values are intended only as general guidelines. In cities, the values may be exceeded due to background traffic noise alone. The guideline values are used as an aid in planning land use, traffic and construction.

Sound volume is measured in decibels (dB). In Finland, an A-weighted average sound level (equivalent level, LAeq) is used to present a noise level. The A-weight describes the disturbance of a sound perceived by humans the best.

Environmental noise can be measured or examined with calculation models. The nature of a noise is taken into account when measuring or calculating noise. 

EU legislation requires big cities to write out a noise assessment using average sound levels deviating from the national guideline values. The day-evening-night noise level (marked as Lden) is obtained by calculating the average sound levels per year for day, evening and night and then stressing the evening and night noise levels according to the greater disturbance caused by them. Night-time (from 10.00-7.00) average sound level is marked as Lyö.

Read more about the legislation on noise abatement on the Ministry of Environment website. 

Traffic as the source of noise

In the Oulu region, the most significant source of environmental noise is traffic. Residents expose to the traffic noise especially along highway 4. Traffic routes surround densely populated residential areas, exposing them to harmful traffic noise.

Rail traffic causes noise on the south side of the centre of Oulu. The noise areas there may be even larger than those on highway 4. Rail traffic noise is especially caused by night-time freight train traffic. In addition, the combined noise from road and rail traffic occurs in the southern area of the city. Joint noise also occurs in Madekoski area, where the combined effect is caused by Oulu-Kontiomäki rail traffic and highway 22 road traffic.

Aviation causes noise pollution in the Oulunsalo and Kempele areas. The noise is caused by both commercial and military aviation. The Oulu Airport noise areas were mapped out in an aviation noise assessment carried out in 2012. 

Industrial noise in the environment is lower than noise from road and rail traffic. Many factories and industrial companies possess environmental permits that have noise regulations. The purpose of the regulations is to prevent, limit and control the noise caused by the operations. Land use planning and noise abatement solutions aim to reduce noise disturbance caused by industries to residential areas.

EU Noise Assessment

According to the EU's Environmental Noise Directive, cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants must carry out a noise assessment every five years. A noise abatement action plan will be written out based on the assessment's findings. Together with the Northern Ostrobothnian ELY Centre and the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency, the City of Oulu regularly examines noise exposure. The noise assessment includes drawing up noise area maps by using a calculation method, a verbal description of the number of residents exposed to the noise and a map of quiet areas. The assessment covers all busy traffic roads and railways in the City of Oulu.

The latest City of Oulu EU noise assessment was executed in 2022. You can find the assessment in the files below. 

National Noise Assessment

The City of Oulu noise assessment was executed in 2022. It examines the findings of the noise assessment using national indicators. The assessment is calculatory and drawn up alongside the EU noise assessment.

The national indicators are A-weighted average noise levels in decibels during the day from 7.00-22.00 and at night from 22.00-7.00. The results obtained with national indicators are comparable with the noise level guidelines in use (in Finnish) (Finlex)

Read more about the City of Oulu national noise assessment and view the attachments:

Quiet areas

Quiet areas have been identified by excluding road and rail traffic noise areas by calculation and by excluding densely built residential areas within a 500-metre exclusion area outside the examination. This had lead to identifying city areas where the road and trail traffic and residential noise impact is low.

According to the noise assessment in Oulu, Hupisaari, the southern regions of Hietasaari, the northern region of Pikisaari, the eastern and southern beaches of Pyykösjärvi, the southern beach of Kuivasjärvi and Letonniemi can be considered as quiet areas. In the Oulunsalo district, quiet areas are the ones slightly on the borders of residential areas and roads.

Noise abatement action plan

Exposure to environmental noise is taken into account when planning land use planning and conducting permit processes, such as noise notifications, environmental permits and building permits. Noise abatement solutions include locating operations away from residential areas, building more effective sound insulation for external walls, setting up noise barriers and barriers and having time limits for noisy operations.

The City of Oulu's noise abatement action plan lists sites where noise protection is needed and examines the possible further measures in those sites. The plan includes the city's goals for noise abatement work in the future. The City Community Board has approved the plan in 2018.

Read more about noise abatement plan and its attachments below: