In Germany, traffic noise-related threshold values are currently set at 70 decibels (dB) during the day and 60 dB at night. According to recent study results, these threshold values might not sufficiently protect against disease risks. The model calculation presented here aimed to estimate the effects of 3 specific noise-protection measures on annoyance, sleep disorders, and cardiovascular diseases.
For road traffic noise and railway noise, 3 noise reduction approaches were modeled: (1) weighted 24 hours noise levels (LDEN) of at most 65 dB, and nightly sound pressure levels (LNight) of 55 dB; (2) LDEN of at most 60 dB and LNight of 50 dB; and (3) a general reduction of road and railway noise pressure levels by 3 dB. As an example, the effects of approaches (1) to (3) were determined for the study population of the NORAH study on disease risks (Rhine-Main area). The health consequences were estimated based on the results of the WHO Noise Guidelines (2018) and the NORAH study on disease risks.
The model calculations showed that noise protection approach (1) could reduce the number of people suffering from sleep disturbances as a result of nightly traffic noise and of those highly annoyed as well as the number of people suffering from traffic-related cardiovascular disease by 5 to 10%. Noise protection approach (2) could reduce traffic-related cardiovascular diseases by at least about 10%; according to the WHO Noise Guidelines, it would even be possible to reduce road traffic noise-related ischemic heart disease by more than 30%. All of these measures would be of particular benefit to the highly exposed population – an already vulnerable group due to their limited socio-economic resources. With the general reduction of traffic noise pressure levels by 3 dB, the incidence of annoyance, sleep disturbances and cardiovascular diseases could be reduced particularly among those exposed to low to medium noise pressure levels.
Considering the different objectives and target groups of the investigated noise protection measures, the introduction and implementation of specific threshold values should be supplemented by general noise reduction measures in the range below the threshold values.

© Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York.