Burden of disease from transportation noise and motor vehicle crashes: Analysis of data from Houston, Texas

BACKGROUND: Transportation systems have an essential role in satisfying individuals' needs for mobility and accessibility. Yet, they have been linked to several adverse health impacts, with a large, but modifiable, burden of disease. Among the several transportation-related health risk factors, this study focused on transportation-related noise as an emerging exposure whose burden of disease remains partially recognized. We compared premature deaths potentially attributable to transportation-related noise with deaths from motor vehicle crashes, a well-researched and widely recognized transportation risk factor., METHOD: The authors employed a standard burden of disease assessment framework to quantify premature cardiovascular diseases mortality attributable to transportation-related (road and aviation) noise at the census tract level (n = 592) in Houston, Texas. The results were compared to motor vehicle crash fatalities, which are routinely observed and collected in the study area. The authors also investigated the distribution of premature deaths across the city and explored the relationship between household median income and premature deaths attributable to transportation-related noise., RESULTS: The authors estimated 302 (95% CI: 185-427) premature deaths (adults 30-75 years old) attributable to transportation-related noise in Houston, compared to 330 fatalities from motor vehicle crashes (adults younger than 75 years old). Transportation-related noise and motor vehicle crashes were responsible for 1.7% and 1.9% of all-cause premature deaths in Houston, respectively. Households with lower median income had a higher risk of adverse exposure and premature deaths potentially attributable to transportation-related noise. A larger number of premature deaths was associated with living in the central business district and the vicinity of highways and airports., CONCLUSION: This study highlighted the significant contribution of transportation-related noise and motor vehicle crashes to premature deaths in the city of Houston. The analogy between the estimated premature deaths attributable to transportation-related noise and motor vehicle crashes showed that the health impacts of transportation-related noise were as significant as motor vehicle crashes. The estimated premature death rate attributable to transportation-related noise was also comparable to the death rate caused by suicide, influenza, or pneumonia in the US. There is an urgent need for imposing policies to reduce transportation noise emissions and human exposures and to equip health impact assessment tools with a noise burden of disease analysis function.


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  • Accession Number: 01765586
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jan 26 2021 3:05PM