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Concept: Noise pollution


Prior research has reported disparities in environmental exposures in the United States, but, to our knowledge, no nationwide studies have assessed inequality in noise pollution.

Concepts: United States, United Kingdom, Poverty in the United States, U.S. state, Pollution, Light pollution, Economic inequality, Noise pollution


The objective of our study was to measure the impact of transportation-related noise and total environmental noise on sleep disturbance for the residents of Montreal, Canada. A telephone-based survey on noise-related sleep disturbance among 4336 persons aged 18 years and over was conducted. LNight for each study participant was estimated using a land use regression (LUR) model. Distance of the respondent’s residence to the nearest transportation noise source was also used as an indicator of noise exposure. The proportion of the population whose sleep was disturbed by outdoor environmental noise in the past 4 weeks was 12.4%. The proportion of those affected by road traffic, airplane and railway noise was 4.2%, 1.5% and 1.1%, respectively. We observed an increased prevalence in sleep disturbance for those exposed to both rail and road noise when compared for those exposed to road only. We did not observe an increased prevalence in sleep disturbance for those that were both exposed to road and planes when compared to those exposed to road or planes only. We developed regression models to assess the marginal proportion of sleep disturbance as a function of estimated LNight and distance to transportation noise sources. In our models, sleep disturbance increased with proximity to transportation noise sources (railway, airplane and road traffic) and with increasing LNight values. Our study provides a quantitative estimate of the association between total environmental noise levels estimated using an LUR model and sleep disturbance from transportation noise.

Concepts: Scientific method, Regression analysis, Linear regression, Statistics, Transport, Road, Noise pollution, Rail transport


The present paper provides an overview of research concerning both acute and chronic effects of exposure to noise on children’s cognitive performance. Experimental studies addressing the impact of acute exposure showed negative effects on speech perception and listening comprehension. These effects are more pronounced in children as compared to adults. Children with language or attention disorders and second-language learners are still more impaired than age-matched controls. Noise-induced disruption was also found for non-auditory tasks, i.e., serial recall of visually presented lists and reading. The impact of chronic exposure to noise was examined in quasi-experimental studies. Indoor noise and reverberation in classroom settings were found to be associated with poorer performance of the children in verbal tasks. Regarding chronic exposure to aircraft noise, studies consistently found that high exposure is associated with lower reading performance. Even though the reported effects are usually small in magnitude, and confounding variables were not always sufficiently controlled, policy makers responsible for noise abatement should be aware of the potential impact of environmental noise on children’s development.

Concepts: Present, Psychology, Understanding, Cognition, Toxicology, Perception, Confounding, Noise pollution


While noise annoyance has become recognized as an important environmental stressor, its association to mental health has hardly been studied. We therefore determined the association of noise annoyance to anxiety and depression and explored the contribution of diverse environmental sources to overall noise annoyance.

Concepts: Anxiety, Psychology, The Association, Noise pollution, Sunshine pop, Aircraft noise


Anthropogenic noise threatens ecological systems, including the cultural and biodiversity resources in protected areas. Using continental-scale sound models, we found that anthropogenic noise doubled background sound levels in 63% of U.S. protected area units and caused a 10-fold or greater increase in 21%, surpassing levels known to interfere with human visitor experience and disrupt wildlife behavior, fitness, and community composition. Elevated noise was also found in critical habitats of endangered species, with 14% experiencing a 10-fold increase in sound levels. However, protected areas with more stringent regulations had less anthropogenic noise. Our analysis indicates that noise pollution in protected areas is closely linked with transportation, development, and extractive land use, providing insight into where mitigation efforts can be most effective.

Concepts: Biodiversity, Species, Endangered species, Pollution, Acoustics, Transport, Sustainability, Noise pollution


There have been concerns about increasing levels of hearing impairment in children and adolescents, especially in relation to noise exposure, because even mild levels of hearing loss can affect educational outcomes.

Concepts: Cochlea, Hearing impairment, Tinnitus, Audiogram, Hearing, Noise pollution, Hearing loss, Loud music


The inability to ignore irrelevant environmental noise is a common problem for people with schizophrenia. The purpose of this study was to determine if the neuronal response to distracting noise is related to mechanisms of altered attention observed in the illness.

Concepts: Attention, Dopamine, Noise pollution, Attention span


The relationship between environmental noise and health has been examined in depth. In view of the sheer number of persons exposed, attention should be focused on road traffic noise. The city of Madrid (Spain) is a densely populated metropolitan area in which 80% of all environmental noise exposure is attributed to traffic. The aim of this study was to quantify avoidable deaths resulting from reducing the impact of equivalent diurnal noise levels (LeqD) on daily cardiovascular and respiratory mortality among people aged ≥65 years in Madrid. A health impact assessment of (average 24h) LeqD and PM2.5 levels was conducted by using previously reported risk estimates of mortality rates for the period 2003-2005: For cardiovascular causes: LeqD 1.048 (1.005, 1.092) and PM2.5 1.041(1.020, 1.062) and for respiratory causes: LeqD 1.060 (1.000, 1.123) and PM2.5 1.030 (1.000, 1.062). The association found between LeqD exposure and mortality for both causes suggests an important health effect. A reduction of 1dB(A) in LeqD implies an avoidable annual mortality of 284 (31, 523) cardiovascular- and 184 (0, 190) respiratory-related deaths in the study population. The magnitude of the health impact is similar to reducing average PM2.5 levels by 10µg/m(3). Regardless of air pollution, exposure to traffic noise should be considered an important environmental factor having a significant impact on health.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Demography, Population, Population ecology, Population density, Pollution, Noise pollution, Air pollution


The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Accredited Standards Committee S12 (Noise) Working Group (WG) 41 has been developing a draft standards document for over 12 years. The current document is in Draft #9, now under development. This document represents the consensus of many stakeholders in the community noise arena, including industry, government, consulting, and the public. The purpose of the document is to provide guidance to government officials, acoustical consultants, and other interested persons on how to develop a community noise ordinance or regulation, which is appropriate for the existing local circumstances. The document addresses issues such as public and government priorities and values, and available resources, and also provides the technical basis to manage the local sound environment. The keys to the effectiveness of the document are that it provides a menu of options for the user, discusses the trade-offs involved for decisions that must be made by government officials, and emphasizes that enforcement of a community noise ordinance is crucial to its success. A description of the current draft is presented.

Concepts: Noise pollution, Noise regulation


OBJECTIVES: To investigate listening habits and hearing risks associated with the use of personal listening devices among urban high school students in Malaysia. STUDY DESIGN: Cross-sectional, descriptive study. METHODS: In total, 177 personal listening device users (13-16 years old) were interviewed to elicit their listening habits (e.g. listening duration, volume setting) and symptoms of hearing loss. Their listening levels were also determined by asking them to set their usual listening volume on an Apple iPod TM playing a pre-selected song. The iPod’s sound output was measured with an artificial ear connected to a sound level meter. Subjects also underwent pure tone audiometry to ascertain their hearing thresholds at standard frequencies (0.5-8 kHz) and extended high frequencies (9-16 kHz). RESULTS: The mean measured listening level and listening duration for all subjects were 72.2 dBA and 1.2 h/day, respectively. Their self-reported listening levels were highly correlated with the measured levels (P < 0.001). Subjects who listened at higher volumes also tend to listen for longer durations (P = 0.012). Male subjects listened at a significantly higher volume than female subjects (P = 0.008). When sound exposure levels were compared with the recommended occupational noise exposure limit, 4.5% of subjects were found to be listening at levels which require mandatory hearing protection in the occupational setting. Hearing loss (≥25 dB hearing level at one or more standard test frequencies) was detected in 7.3% of subjects. Subjects' sound exposure levels from the devices were positively correlated with their hearing thresholds at two of the extended high frequencies (11.2 and 14 kHz), which could indicate an early stage of noise-induced hearing loss. CONCLUSIONS: Although the average high school student listened at safe levels, a small percentage of listeners were exposed to harmful sound levels. Preventive measures are needed to avoid permanent hearing damage in high-risk listeners.

Concepts: Hearing impairment, High school, Tinnitus, Sound, Sound pressure, Audiogram, Hearing, Noise pollution