Noise exposure and health
New health based guidelines for environmental noise
During the autumn of 2018 WHO have release new health based guidelines from environmental noise from transportation, wind turbine and leisure noise. In focus are transportation noise were source specific guideline values are presented for car, railway and aircraft. The guideline values are based on comprehensive reviews on different health aspects such as severe disturbance, sleep disturbance, cardiovascular disease and cognitive development. In comparison to prior recommendations to policy makers and city planner the new health based guideline values from WHO are even stricter. For instance for the most common source road traffic noise, levels should be kept below 53 dB Lden and 45 dB Lnight. In relation to this the Swedish legislation has weakened during the last years, allowing considerably more noise at the façade of new buildings. Much focus is nowadays put on keeping noise levels inside low, but outdoor environments are also important as we want to be able to enjoy being outside on streets, squares and parks in our cities.
Since 2017 there is a large research project with Nordic collaboration ongoing including research groups from Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway called NordSOUND. The purpose of the project is to study occupational and traffic noise in relation to disease. The division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (OEM) at Lund University is one of the Swedish research groups that are involved. The project focuses on exposure to road traffic noise and occupational noise, but will also consider railway noise, air pollutions and access to green areas near the residence. Parallel to this there is another Nordic collaborative research project including researcher from OEM financed by FORTE that will study associations between exposure to road traffic noise and breast cancer. OEM also run a research project called densifying the cities without increased environmental health burden. In this project traffic noise is one exposure that will be studied in relation to different city planning scenarios.
Clinical and preventive work
Current there is ongoing work at OEM investigating and preventing negative health impacts from, among other exposures, environmental noise. As part of two educational days were arranged in May 2019. The purpose of the days was to increase awareness of the negative environmental and health effects of noise in society to facilitate audits, increase the ability to set requirements, assess decision basis and thereby increase the possibility of limiting noise disturbances. The target group was environmental inspectors at municipalities.
Med. Dr, Occupational & Environmental Medicine, Lund University