Exposure to noise seriously harms human health. It can cause sleep disturbances or heart and metabolic conditions, it affects performance at school and work and triggers changes in social behavior. Specialists at Swiss TPH investigate how exposure to road, railway or aircraft noise causes sleep disturbances and heart and metabolic disorders of people living in Switzerland and abroad. They determine source-specific exposure-response functions due to the acoustical characteristics of noise and elucidate the role of individual factors such as age, gender, noise sensitivity and genetic predispositions. A better understanding of the health impact of noise exposure is highly relevant for regulating environmental noise.

Physical inactivity could result from noise exposure.

Long-Term Transportation Noise Annoyance Leads to Physical Inactivity

Swiss TPH experts showed for the first time that long-term transportation noise annoyance is associated with reduced physical activity in Switzerland. The study adds to the evidence on potential impact of noise on chronic diseases for persistent noise annoyance and lower physical activity might result in adverse health effects such as obesity or diabetes.

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Exposure to noise costs the Swiss economy a fortune.

Transportation Noise Causes Heavy Costs in Switzerland Each Year

A study analysing the health and economic burden of road, rail and air traffic in Switzerland in 2010 concluded external costs of noise exposure are about 1.8 billion each year; similar to that of air pollution. Most costs are due to reduced rent and purchasing prices of apartments and houses in noise-affected regions. This reflects annoyance and reduced quality of life from chronic noise exposure. In addition, it is estimated that transportation noise causes 22,500 hospital days and 5'500 years of life lost each year.

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Not only outdoor noise, but indoor noise too has consequences to one's health.

Measuring Indoor and Outdoor Noise Exposure at Home

So far, epidemiological research on long term effects of noise has focussed on outdoor noise levels. However, people are mostly inside and thus indoor noise levels are expected to be most relevant for health. A new Swiss TPH project measures the different levels of outdoor and indoor noise exposure of apartments in Switzerland. Experts focus on how the window positions (open, closed, tilted) results in different levels of indoor noise exposure. The ultimate aim of the project is to develop a detailed exposure-model for indoor noise.

Research in South Africa allows for comparing large data sets across continents.

Noise Exposure in the Western Cape, South Africa

In a recent project done in the Western Cape region in South Africa, Swiss TPH experts study whether the noise sensitivity and noise annoyance of South Africans is associated with the noise measurements done in their residential areas. In a second step, the data on noise senstitivies and noise annoyance from South Africa is compared to data from Switzerland. The project is undertaken under the frame of the joint Swiss-South African Chair on Global Environmental Health.

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The SIRENE-Project