The issue of traffic noise causing adverse affects on our health and quality of life will be discussed at the Making Cities Liveable Conference.
Traffic noise causes adverse effects on the health and quality of life of any population exposed to it, including annoyance, sleep disturbance, decreased performance at school/work, stress, hypertension, and ischemic heart disease.
Despite of this, there is still a lack of standards on regulations/policies regarding noise in urban environments. The European Noise Directive recommends a threshold of 55 dB(A) for average day to night (6am to 12am) and 50 dB(A) for night time (12am to 6am). Recent research identified that the threshold level for waking in the night is 42 dB(A), so the World Health Organisation proposed to decrease the night threshold to 40dB.
In Australia, there are many discrepancies in thresholds, regulations, and policies with regard to noise levels when states and regions are compared. In Victoria, for example, segments of the same highway, or highways in the same region, can have different thresholds for noise level before implementation of barriers, depending on their jurisdiction. Currently Victoria has day-to-night thresholds for noise level (63 to 68 dB(A)) high above the accepted levels in Europe, and they are incomplete, since there are no standards for the late night period.
A better understanding of the effects of noise on health for the Australian situation is necessary to define appropriate thresholds, and to plan measures for noise mitigation. It involves the study of policy-relevant metrics, for which more insight in the exposure-response relationships for noise and exposure settings.
This presentation will review existing literature, evidence and policies related to urban noise, and combine them to a case study mapping noise and population exposure levels. The aim of this project is to produce knowledge to assist in developing a more informed and unified policy for traffic noise management in Victoria, and to improve the health and quality of life of the population.
Dr Anita Peerson, School of Architecture & Building, Deakin University will speak at the 5th Healthy Cities: Making Cities Liveable Conference 2012, to be held at The Mercure Hotel and Conference Centre Geelong, Victoria from June 6 – 8.