Noise and health recommendations for noise management strategies
In October 2018, the World Health Organization published the WHO Environmental Noise Guidelines for the European Region, featuring substantial new recommendations and deeming noise as a health risk rather than a nuisance.
The ANIMA project carried out reviews on aircraft noise impacts, specifically investigating the health implications arising from aircraft noise exposure and the role of annoyance and its contributors in mediating these effects and the implications for noise management strategies.
This review on the health impacts highlights the importance of addressing reported annoyance and sleep disturbance as critical outcomes, in line with WHO findings.
ANIMA researchers reviewed the studies at the core of the WHO guidelines plus other published more recently. They carried out a systematic review of the scientific evidence used to underpin noise and health impact assessments. ANIMA has taken a phased approach consisting of a literature review, a discussion of the basis of these risks and the management implications and associated research gaps.
The review acknowledged reported associations between sleep disturbance, annoyance and certain long-term health outcomes, thus sleep disturbance and reported annoyance may be mediators of some adverse physical and mental health impacts.
ANIMA research suggests that noise mitigation efforts should focus directly on annoyance outcomes for daytime and aircraft noise induced impairment of sleep quality during night-time in addition to reducing noise exposure. For such efforts to be effective, the full suite of acoustic contributions and non-acoustic factors associated with responses to aircraft noise must be addressed. To date, management interventions and impact studies have only partially addressed these contributions.
The ANIMA project encourages a more comprehensive approach both in the design and evaluation of noise management interventions and in the assessment of the long-term consequences arising from noise exposure.
As a result, ANIMA systematically derived evidence-based recommendations for realistic and actionable measures to reduce aircraft noise annoyance.
ANIMA research suggests that addressing annoyance and sleep disturbance directly should be central to effective noise impact management. Annoyance is affected by acoustic variables (the noise itself), as well as non-acoustic factors (e.g. personal noise sensitivity, perceived procedural fairness, coping ability, home ownership, relationship with authorities, perceived predictability, etc.).
Based on the above factors, ANIMA elaborated a set of recommendations for noise management strategies, like how aviation actors should design communication and engagement processes that are likely to influence the non-acoustic factors contributing to noise annoyance.
The review performed by the ANIMA researchers acknowledges that some non-acoustic factors will not be amendable to influence (e.g. the individual sensitivity to noise, the age of an affected person), but it may be possible to address others (trust, fairness and attitudes towards the sources of the noise) through management interventions and thereby influence the extent of annoyance. These factors can be best addressed through communication and engagement between airports, authorities and residents directed at the noise management process. In other words, through meaningful engagement on noise matters that affect local communities.