Road traffic noise: Annoyance, sleep disturbance, and public health implications

Minho Kim, Seo I. Chang, Jeong C. Seong, James B. Holt, Tae H. Park, Joon H. Ko, Janet B. Croft

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


Background: The WHO has recognized environmental noise as harmful pollution that causes adverse psychosocial and physiologic effects (i.e., annoyance and sleep disturbance) on human health. In Europe, noise-related health studies have been actively conducted, but the U.S. has lagged behind in this research field. Purpose: This research predicted ambient levels of road traffic noise for a highly urbanized area: Fulton County GA. Assessment was made of noise impacts on the population, focusing on annoyance and sleep disturbance. Methods: All the data sets were collected during 2009-2011, and data analysis was performed in 2010-2011. The study used a sound-propagation model for noise-level prediction and derived noise-impact indicators for annoyance and sleep disturbance from exposure-response models. Then, annoyed and sleep-disturbed populations were predicted with the use of each noise-impact indicator. Results: It was predicted that 109,967 people would be at risk of being highly annoyed, with 19,621 people at risk for high sleep disturbance for Fulton County GA. Noise-impact indicators such as the percentage of those who were highly annoyed and who had high levels of sleep disturbance were expected to be valuable metrics to compare noise equity among urban communities. Conclusions: Many residents of the greater Atlanta area may be exposed to noise levels that put them at risk of being highly annoyed or having high levels of sleep disturbance. These results, if generalized to other urban areas with high levels of road traffic, indicate that it may be important for the public's health to update existing noise-related policies or develop new ones to control and abate noise concerns in urban communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-360
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Preventive Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2012


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