Inhabitants often suffer nuisance by noise, odour and light in the densely populated and industrialised Flanders. Nuisance is an unpleasant sensory feeling with both an objective and subjective character. Contrary to other environmental pollution of which man is not immediately aware, nuisance is immediately noticeable. This causes a damage to our mental and physical quality of life.
Noise significantly threatens the quality of life. Transport is a major source of noise nuisance. Changing lifestyles have an impact on nuisance from recreational and neighbourhood noise, two not insignificant contributions. Noise can result in disrupted sleep, stress and even heart and arterial disease.
Odour starts with the emission of volatile compounds that disperse in the air and are sense by the human nose. Stink occurs when the sensing of odours is experienced as a nuisance. The level of nuisance is determined by the frequency, duration, intensity and nature of the odour, due to the variability in time of the concentration of the odour and due to the context and socio-psychological factors. Odour nuisance may even result e.g. in headache, stress and nausea.
Light nuisance is the nuisance caused by artificial light, as direct blinding, as a disrupting factor in the execution of evening or night-time activities or as a source of discomfort. Astronomers are disturbed by this amongst others. Animals are also sensitive to light nuisance: it fragments and influence their habitat and disrupts their biorhythm. Few to no detrimental effects have been observed for plants with the exception of frost damage due to keeping the leaves for longer in the autumn. Light pollution is the increased clarity in the night-time environment due to excessive and wasteful use of artificial light. The large number of lit roads and the lighting in greenhouse farming are known sources of light nuisance and light pollution.