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Transportation noise exposure and children's health and cognition

By E.E.M.M. van Kempen


This thesis focuses on the effects of transportation noise on children. Children are suspected of being more susceptible to noise exposure. There is a lack of source-specific exposure-response relations describing the association between noise exposure and specific health and cognitive outcomes in children. This is because different, sometimes competing, working mechanisms of how noise affects children are suggested. Furthermore, there are shortcomings in the design and methods of studies investigating the effects of transportation noise on children such as a limited noise exposure range, and the lack of uniformity of the measurement of end points which hamper the possibilities for quantitative meta-analysis and subsequent assessment of the noise impact on children in The Netherlands. To investigate the effects of transportation noise exposure on children's annoyance reactions, perceived health, blood pressure and cognitive functioning, a meta-analysis investigating the relation between noise exposure, blood pressure and/or ischemic heart disease (ICD-9: 410-414) was conducted. Secondly, the data of a cross-sectional field study investigating the effects of aircraft and road traffic noise on cognition, annoyance, behaviour and health in children attending primary schools around three European airports, gathered for the European 5th framework project RANCH, were used. The number of children affected by aircraft noise exposure was estimated using exposure-response relations that were derived in this thesis. The results indicate that transportation noise exposure impairs children's performance mainly on the difficult tasks: noise exposure at school was related to an increase in mistakes on the Switching Attention Test. This was consistent with the results of other recent studies. This was one of the first this studies that systematically measured children's annoyance reactions due to aircraft and road traffic noise in both the home and school setting. The findings were consistent across the samples, and allowed the estimation of source-specific exposure-response relations for children. The relation between noise exposure and blood pressure was not quite consistent: In the Dutch sample blood pressure increased as aircraft noise increased; this was not the case for the British sample. There were differences in the effects of noise on blood pressure between road traffic and aircraft noise. The results of previous studies were inconsistent. As a consequence no exposure-response relation for blood pressure could be derived. No direct association between transportation noise exposure and perceived health in children was found. The findings partly support the idea that noise may act as a physiological stressor. In addition, the effects of noise exposure on children's perceived health and cognitive functioning may be a result of the appraisal of noise as a stressor. Children per se are not more impaired than adults by noise exposure. Exposure-response relations for the association between aircraft noise and annoyance among children were broadly comparable to those among their parents. It was indicatively estimated that 110-720 pupils per school year visiting primary schools around Schiphol airport have a low test result for reading comprehension due to aircraft noise exposure. An estimated 850 pupils per school year are severely annoyed at school due to aircraft noise

Topics: Geneeskunde, aircraft noise, road traffic noise, annoyance, blood pressure, ischemic heart disease, cognitive functioning, primary school children, meta-analysis, multi-centre study, exposure-response relations
Publisher: Utrecht University
Year: 2008
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