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Year : 2010  |  Volume : 12  |  Issue : 47  |  Page : 110--119

The effects of railway noise on sleep medication intake: Results from the ALPNAP-study

1 Department of Hygiene, Microbiology and Social Medicine, Medical University Innsbruck, Zürich, Switzerland
2 D-MTEC Public and Organizational Health, ETH Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland
3 Acoustics group, Department of Information Technology, Gent University, Gent, Belgium
4 CSTB, Saint-Martin-d'Hères, France

Correspondence Address:
P Lercher
Department of Hygiene, Microbiology and Social Medicine, Medical University Innsbruck
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Source of Support: The ALPNAP project received European Regional Development Funding through the INTERREG III Community Initiative., Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1463-1741.63211

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In the 1980s/90s, a number of socio-acoustic surveys and laboratory studies on railway noise effects have observed less reported disturbance/interference with sleep at the same exposure level compared with other modes of transportation. This lower grade of disturbance has received the label "railway bonus", was implemented in noise legislation in a number of European countries and was applied in planning and environmental impact assessments. However, majority of the studies investigating physiological outcomes did not find the bespoke difference. In a telephone survey (N=1643) we investigated the relationship between railway noise and sleep medication intake and the impact of railway noise events on motility parameters during night was assessed with contact-free high resolution actimetry devices. Multiple logistic regression analysis with cubic splines was applied to assess the probability of sleep medication use based on railway sound level and nine covariates. The non-linear exposure-response curve showed a statistically significant leveling off around 60 dB (A), Lden. Age, health status and trauma history were the most important covariates. The results were supported also by a similar analysis based on the indicator "night time noise annoyance". No railway bonus could be observed above 55 dB(A), Lden. In the actimetry study, the slope of rise of train noise events proved to be almost as important a predictor for motility reactions as was the maximum sound pressure level - an observation which confirms similar findings from laboratory experiments and field studies on aircraft noise and sleep disturbance. Legislation using a railway bonus will underestimate the noise impact by about 10 dB (A), Lden under the conditions comparable with those in the survey study. The choice of the noise calculation method may influence the threshold for guideline setting.


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