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Approved Research

Transport noise and other environmental risk factors for health and wellbeing

Principal Investigator: Dr Anna Hansell
Approved Research ID: 59129
Approval date: April 27th 2021

Lay summary

The aim of this research is to provide high quality evidence on the relationship between transport noise and other environmental exposures on health. Results will inform UK and international policy and regulation.

Noise from planes, cars and trains can disturb sleep and may also cause annoyance, a source of stress. Sudden loud noise also causes increases in blood pressure and heart rate as part of a normal 'fright and flight' response. Recent research has suggested that sleep disturbance, increased stress and repeated stimulation of these 'fright and flight' responses related to unwanted noise may lead to long term impacts on health. Previous studies have found links with obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. However, there are still relatively few studies available. Also, not all studies also take account of air pollution exposures.

This new study will be one of the largest conducted into health effects of transport noise. It will also look at air pollution and other aspects of the environment that may impact how noise affects the body.

Researchers will produce new detailed estimates of noise exposure, air pollution levels and greenspace for UK Biobank participants. These will be used in this study, but also benefit future research.

Statistical analyses will be used to see if links can be detected between noise and sleep disturbance, noise and blood markers of stress and with diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, taking account of other environmental exposures.

A series of analyses will be conducted over a five year period, with initial health analyses conducted over the first three years (with aircraft noise analyses in the first 18-24 months) and follow-up analyses dependent on the initial studies.

The findings will be used to develop noise policy at Public Health England to help protect the public from potential health risks from aircraft, rail and road noise. It will form part of work conducted for the National Institute for Health Research funded national Health Protection Research Unit in Environmental Exposures and Health at University of Leicester.