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2004| July-September | Volume 6 | Issue 24
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Road traffic noise and annoyance-an increasing environmental health problem
G Bluhm, E Nordling, N Berglind
July-September 2004, 6(24):43-49
Traffic noise, which is steadily increasing, is considered to be an important environmental health problem. The aim of this study was to estimate the degree of annoyance and sleep disturbance related to road traffic noise in residential settings in an urban community. The study is based on a questionnaire on environmentally related health effects distributed to a stratified random sample of 1000 individuals, 19-80 years old, in a municipality with heavy traffic in the county of Stockholm. The response rate was 76%. The individual noise exposure was estimated using evaluated noise dispersion models and local noise assessments. Frequent annoyance was reported by 13% of subjects exposed to Leq 24 hr >50 dBA compared to 2% among those exposed to <50 dBA, resulting in a difference of 11% (95% Confidence Interval (CI) 7%, 15%). Sometimes or frequently occurring sleep disturbance was reported by 23% at Leq 24 hr >50 dBA and by 13% at levels <50 dBA, a difference of 11% (95% CI 4%, 18%). A positive exposure- response relation was indicated for annoyance as well as for sleep disturbances when classifying the individuals into four different exposure categories (< 45, 46
dBA Leq 24 hr). There was some habituation to noise for problems related to sleep but not for annoyance. The prevalence of both annoyance and sleep problems was higher when bedroom windows were facing streets. People living in apartments had more sleep problems compared to people living in detached or semi-detached houses. In conclusion traffic noise exposure, even at low levels, was associated with annoyance and sleep disturbance. Access to a quiet side seemed to be a major protective factor for noise related problems.
Stress effects of noise in a field experiment in comparison to reactions to short term noise exposure in the laboratory.
H Ising, R Michalak
July-September 2004, 6(24):1-7
Reactions to noise-induced communication disturbance of 42 men during a seminar were investigated. Stress reactions with or without road traffic noise (L
= 60 dB(A)) were compared. Traffic noise was played back via loudspeakers during one day in the seminar room. The following parameters were measured: Fatigue and mental tension by questionnaire; blood pressure and heart rate; excretion of adrenaline, noradrenaline and cAMP from the collected urine. The same subjects participated in a laboratory test where the blood pressure was measured during 5 minutes of rest and after 5 minutes of exposure to intermittent white noise (L
=97 dB(A)). It was found that the noise in the field experiment caused psychological and physiological stress effects in half of the subjects. Increased mental tension was correlated to increases as well as decreases of the blood pressure. Systolic blood pressure reactions were stronger than the reactions of diastolic blood pressure. Noise sensitive subjects reacted stronger than the others. In the short-term laboratory test, systolic blood pressure increases were smaller than the diastolic increases. At the end of the 5 minutes noise exposure only the diastolic blood pressure increases were significant. There was no correlation between the blood pressure reactions in the two different noise exposure experiments. There existed a positive correlation between noise sensitivity and the systolic blood pressure increases during the seminar, whilst the correlation, between noise sensitivity and systolic blood pressure increases in the laboratory exposure, was negative. From these results we conclude that short-term noise exposure experiments do not provide information about the effects of long-term real life exposure to environmental noise. Potential health effects of chronic noise-induced disturbances of activities are discussed.
Nocturnal awakenings due to aircraft noise*. Do wake-up reactions begin at sound level 60 dB(A)?
C Maschke, K Hecht, U Wolf
July-September 2004, 6(24):21-33
Night-time wake-up thresholds at noise levels of 60 dB(A) are frequently employed in Germany to establish "noise polluted areas". The criterion is, however, based on an incorrect processing of statistical data gathered from an evaluation of literature performed by Griefahn et al. (1976). This finding has emerged from an extensive revision of the study. Using appropriate statistical methods, maximum levels of under 48 dB(A) are assessed as waking-up thresholds at ear level in sleeping persons, in contrast to maximum levels of 60 dB(A) calculated by Griefahn et al. in 1976. The linear dose-response relationship, which in the course of the revision could be derived from the early publications, agrees with the results of more recent literature evaluations. The present contribution is not intended to give rise to the question whether in the interest of medical prevention it is reasonable to develop night-time protective policies merely founded on noise levels marking the "statistical" onset of nocturnal wake-up reactions. In this context, emphasis is laid on the deformation of the biological rhythm of sleep.
Does the presentation of audiometric test data have a positive effect on the perceptions of workplace noise and noise exposure avoidance?
W Williams, SC Purdy, N Murray, H Dillon, E LePage, K Challinor, L Storey
July-September 2004, 6(24):75-84
Research and 'common knowledge' has for many years accepted that education and feedback supplied to individuals during and immediately after workplace health assessments provides valuable information to workers about their health. Further, if more relevant and detailed information could be supplied then awareness and preventative action may increase proportionately. This research carried out with a rural Australian population has shown that preventative action did not increase in proportion to a corresponding increase in the amount and variety of information provided in connection with hearing health status. Two research groups underwent hearing tests, both with pure tone audiometry (PTA) while the second group also underwent otoacoustic emission (OAE) testing. Test results were presented to the subjects at the conclusion of their test session. An analysis of questionnaire responses at six week and twelve months follow up showed that more information did not result in increased preventative action. Barriers seem to exist such that individuals feel that they are not able to effectively act to reduce overall noise exposure. While self-efficacy initially increased, it declined to close to its initial value over the longer period. Other measures such as perceived susceptibility to hearing loss and the benefits of exposure reduction significantly increased and remained at the same increased level after twelve months. So, while overall awareness of noise and the risks of exposure were increased after both types of hearing test there was no increased hearing health benefit due to additional testing and hearing information.
A soundscape study : What kinds of sounds can elderly people affected by dementia recollect?
K Nagahata, T Fukushima, N Ishibashi, Y Takahashi, M Moriyama
July-September 2004, 6(24):63-73
In this study, the kinds of sounds recollected by elderly people with dementia were investigated as a first step towards improving their sound environment. Onomatopoeias were presented to elderly people as keys to recollecting sounds, and they told what they imagined from each onomatopoeia. The results are summarized as follows. (1) Generally speaking, sounds from nature, such as the songs of birds and the sound of rain were recollected easily from onomatopoeias, regardless of gender.
Sounds of kitchen work were recollected by women only.
Sounds from old routines were recollected clearly.
Sounds that elicited feelings of nostalgia were also recollected intensely from onomatopoeias. These results show that elderly people suffering from dementia are able to recollect the sounds that had once occupied very important parts of their lives. However, these sounds in themselves are not unusual sounds in their daily lives. This suggests the importance of soundscape design in daily life.
Reference data for evaluation of occupationally noise-induced hearing loss
M Johansson, S Arlinger
July-September 2004, 6(24):35-41
Relevant reference data are required in order to determine the effect from occupational noise exposure on hearing. Pure-tone averages (PTA) of hearing threshold levels simplify the evaluation for audiometric frequencies typically affected by noise. The present study provides reference data of high frequency (HF) PTA over 3, 4 and 6 kHz for a general adult population, aged from 20 to 79 years, not exposed to hazardous occupational noise. The results are presented as statistical distributions of HF PTA values as functions of age, and as prevalence of different degree of HF PTA in the age groups 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69 and 70-79 years.
Protection goals for residents in the vicinity of civil airports
B Griefahn, K Scheuch, G Jansen, M Spreng
July-September 2004, 6(24):51-62
Based on extensive and detailed reviews the present paper suggests evaluation criteria for aircraft noise for the prediction of noise effects and for the protection of residents living in the vicinity of (newly constructed or extended) civil airports. The protection concept provides graded evaluation criteria: Critical loads indicate noise loads that shall be tolerated only exceptionally during a limited time. Protection Guides are central evaluation criteria for taking actions to reduce noise immission. Threshold values inform about measurable physiological and psychological reactions due to noise exposures where long term adverse health effects are not expected. Evaluation criteria are provided for various protection goals, for hearing, communication and sleep, for the avoidance of annoyance and of suspected cardiovascular diseases. As protection of the residents is understood as a dynamic process, these criteria must be repeatedly tested and adapted to new scientific findings.
Requirements for the protection against aircraft noise
H Wende, J Ortscheid
July-September 2004, 6(24):9-19
In preparation of the revised edition of the Air Traffic Noise Act the Federal Environmental Agency formulated targets for aircraft noise control. They were prepared oriented to the Federal Immission Control Act. The assessment periods were chosen analogously to the regulations on other traffic noise sources (rail traffic, road traffic). The control targets cover the following affected areas- aural, extra-aural health, night's sleep, annoyance, communication, recreation. Considerable nuisance can be avoided by limiting the exposure to aircraft noise (outside) to equivalent levels below 55 dB(A) by day and 45 dB(A) at night, and impairment of health can be avoided by limiting the exposure to aircraft noise (outside) to equivalent levels below 60 dB(A) by day and 50 dB(A) at night.
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