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Spatial and temporal associations of road traffic noise and air pollution in London: Implications for epidemiological studies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Daniela Fecht, Anna L. Hansell, David Morley, David Dajnak, Danielle Vienneau, Sean Beevers, Mireille B. Toledano, Frank J. Kelly, H. Ross Anderson, John Gulliver

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-242
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironment International
Early online date11 Jan 2016
Accepted/In press1 Dec 2015
E-pub ahead of print11 Jan 2016
Published1 Mar 2016


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King's Authors


Road traffic gives rise to noise and air pollution exposures, both of which are associated with adverse health effects especially for cardiovascular disease, but mechanisms may differ. Understanding the variability in correlations between these pollutants is essential to understand better their separate and joint effects on human health.We explored associations between modelled noise and air pollutants using different spatial units and area characteristics in London in 2003-2010. We modelled annual average exposures to road traffic noise (LAeq,24h, Lden, LAeq,16h, Lnight) for ~190,000 postcode centroids in London using the UK Calculation of Road Traffic Noise (CRTN) method. We used a dispersion model (KCLurban) to model nitrogen dioxide, nitrogen oxide, ozone, total and the traffic-only component of particulate matter ≤2.5μm and ≤10μm. We analysed noise and air pollution correlations at the postcode level (~50 people), postcodes stratified by London Boroughs (~240,000 people), neighbourhoods (Lower layer Super Output Areas) (~1600 people), 1km grid squares, air pollution tertiles, 50m, 100m and 200m in distance from major roads and by deprivation tertiles.Across all London postcodes, we observed overall moderate correlations between modelled noise and air pollution that were stable over time (Spearman's rho range: |0.34-0.55|). Correlations, however, varied considerably depending on the spatial unit: largest ranges were seen in neighbourhoods and 1. km grid squares (both Spearman's rho range: |0.01-0.87|) and was less for Boroughs (Spearman's rho range: |0.21-0.78|). There was little difference in correlations between exposure tertiles, distance from road or deprivation tertiles.Associations between noise and air pollution at the relevant geographical unit of analysis need to be carefully considered in any epidemiological analysis, in particular in complex urban areas. Low correlations near roads, however, suggest that independent effects of road noise and traffic-related air pollution can be reliably determined within London.

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