Background: Noise from road, railway and aircraft traffic is one of the most widespread sources of environmental stress and discomfort in everyday life. However, previous research has been fragmented, in particular in children and adolescents. As a consequence little is known about the relevance of exposure duration, noise characteristics and the effects in adolescents.
Aims: The overall aim is to obtain a thorough understanding on how transportation noise affects human health. In particular, the following research questions will be addressed:
- How relevant is eventfulness of noise and duration of quiet phases between events for cardiovascular mortality, and adolescents´ cognitive performance, behaviour and quality of life?
- How crucial is noise exposure at different times during day and night for these outcomes?
- How relevant is noise exposure at home vs. school for adolescents’ cognitive performance, behaviour and quality of life?
- Are noise induced cardiovascular risks reversible after noise exposure reduction? If yes, what is the relevant time scale?
- Do noise events trigger an acute cardiovascular death?
Methods: Research will be based on the existing Swiss National Cohort (SNC) and adolescent HERMES cohort study. Nationwide models for road, railway and aircraft traffic noise as well as NO2 exposure at each address in Switzerland for 2001 and 2011 will be individually linked to study participants. For HERMES participants, a longitudinal analysis will be conducted to evaluate the effects of noise exposure at school and home on changes in cognitive function, behaviour and health related quality of life within one year of follow-up. Full residential history available after 2010 for the SNC will be used to elucidate the effects of a sudden change of exposure on cardiovascular mortality. A case-crossover analysis on the triggering effects of aircraft noise on acute coronary events in the population around Zürich airport will be conducted, taking advantage of the daily distribution and variation of noise exposure which is heavily influenced by meteorological conditions.
Significance: A better understanding of noise health effects can have far reaching impacts beyond Switzerland and Europe for both science and policy. Future research will profit from the new exposure assessment and analytical methods addressing long and short term exposure windows. The research is highly relevant for prevention of various diseases and contributes to efficient regulation of different types of environmental noise sources beyond transportation noise. Research insights will become even more important in future with growing urbanisation and the trend toward a 24h society.