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Noise Health. 2004 Jul-Sep;6(24):43-9.

Road traffic noise and annoyance--an increasing environmental health problem.

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  • 1Department of Environmental Health, Norrbacka, 3rd floor, Karolinska Hospital, SE-171 79 Stockholm, Sweden.

Abstract

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- 50, 51-55 and >55 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.

PMID:
15703140
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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