Right to Quiet Society Noiseletter
Winter 2011 – page 2

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Loud Workplaces May Increase Health Problems


What's bad for your ears may also be bad for your heart. According to a new study, people who work in noisy places for at least a year and a half could have triple the risk of a serious heart problem compared to those who work in quiet environments, a new study says.

Wenqi Gan of the University of British Columbia examined more than 6,000 people who were at least 20 years old and employed, in a U.S. health survey from 1999 to 2004.

Most of the study participants working in loud workplaces were men aged 40 and were more likely to have other heart risk factors like having a higher than normal Body Mass Index and smoking. After statistically adjusting for those variables, Gan still found people working in loud places had a higher chance of heart disease. Participants were asked to rate how noisy their workplace was and how long they were exposed to it. A workplace was classified as noisy if people had to raise their voices to have a conversation.


Gan found people who worked in loud environments for at least one year and a half were two to three times more likely to have problems including a heart attack and severe chest pain. The study was paid for by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and others. It was published online October 5, 2010 in Occupational and Environmental Medicine, a specialist journal of the BMJ.

While Halle said noise should be considered as an additional heart risk factor, he said other variables were more critical. "You could change your workplace...if it's too noisy," he said. "But it's more important to stop smoking."

(Please note: Regarding the suggestion that people could change their workplace, it is true that many could and others could not. But even those who could, would first of all have to be made aware of the inherent risks their noisy workplace poses to them).

Link to article

Sounds nice: making better urban noise with quiet asphalt

The bulk of the noise that we experience when a vehicle drives past us is from the contact between the tyre and the road surface. However, according to the partners of the EU-funded project Silvia, it is now possible to reduce traffic noise considerably. The world of today is facing a number of changes. The population in European cities like London, Rome and Paris is increasing dramatically. The concentration of people in large cities in turn increases the impact of traffic on the environment and in particular, traffic noise.

There is however large potential for reducing the noise nuisance problem, if providers of road infrastructure, as well as city councils give the necessary support. By combining their efforts, substantial achievements in noise reduction can be gained based on existing technology and advancements from current research. To contribute to the reduction of traffic-noise burden in large cities, the European Commission decided to fund the Silvia project. Initiated by the Forum of European National Highway Re-search Laboratories (Fehrl), this project aimed to derive the full benefit from the use of low-noise road surfaces.

Over the past 20 years various types of low-noise road surfaces have been introduced, including thin asphalt concrete and stone mastic asphalt. Despite advances in the construction of these road surfaces, they are still not widely used even though they represent a relatively in-expensive means of reducing traffic noise. Building substantially quieter road surfaces does not necessarily incur additional costs, unlike, for example, the construction of roadside noise barriers. However, their porosity can deteriorate over time, leading to a reduction in their noise- reducing properties. Methods are therefore required for monitoring their performance.


Within the framework of the Silvia project, the use of maximum length sequence-based measurement techniques has been shown to be effective in determining the acoustic absorption spectra of surfaces. Researchers have optimised these techniques for use under static as well as dynamic conditions. Trial measurements have demonstrated the stability of this approach at towing speeds of up to 30 km/h for good quality road surfaces, such as those that have recently been laid. With further development, it may also be feasible to use such techniques to routinely assess the performance of older or more heavily trafficked roads.

The 'European guidance manual on the utilisation of low-noise road surfacings', the final output of the project, is the compilation of all the key research findings. It takes into account the fact that it should ideally be possible to make use of the content without any particular expertise in road building. The project partners' hope is that this manual will help decision-makers to rationally plan noise mitigation measures by combining low noise surfaces with other noise control measures.

Link to original article

Information Source: Result from the EU-funded GROWTH programme

Date: 2010-09-06

Contact Details:
ROOTEN, Claude Van
Belgian Road Research Centre (BRRC)
Boulevard de la Woluwe, 42,
Tel: +32-2775-8230
Fax: +32-2772-3374

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