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Special Issue "The Protection of Quiet Areas as a Public Health Aim Towards Sustainable Health: Approaches, Case Studies and Implementation"

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A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 January 2013)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Peter Lercher

Division of Social Medicine, Medical University Innsbruck, Sonnenburgstraße 16, A-6020 Innsbruck, Austria
Website | E-Mail
Fax: +43 0512 9003 73251
Interests: environmental and social epidemiology; environmental health impact assessment; noise/vibration and air pollution; combined effects; quality of life

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Noise is continuously spreading from urban centers to suburban and rural areas - thereby reducing the options for restoration, undisturbed communication and decreasing health related and environmental quality of life. Aside from continuously increasing traffic one important reason for the unending spread of noise is that in large environmental health impact assessments (airports, rail tracks, roads) only the upper health limits of exposure are addressed. This leads to the widespread use in environmental administration and policy to "fill up" the noise exposure to the maximum allowed. Aware of this fact, in 2002, the Environmental noise directive (END) has introduced the protection of quiet areas as a new goal for the administration of noise in European countries. Other parts of the world face the same problem. Unfortunately, the legal and scientific framework to implement this new aim is still in its infancy.
Contributions, which address the health and restoration related aspects in theory and practice and examples of implementation at national, regional or community level are welcome.

Prof. Dr. Peter Lercher
Guest Editor

Submission

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. Papers will be published continuously (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are refereed through a peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed Open Access monthly journal published by MDPI.

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Keywords

  • sound and quality of life
  • sound and restoration
  • health benefits of quiet areas
  • health benefits of soundscapes
  • quiet area implementation
  • soundscape implementation
  • quiet area policy approaches

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Quiet as an Environmental Value: A Contrast between Two Legislative Approaches
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(7), 2741-2759; doi:10.3390/ijerph10072741
Received: 18 March 2013 / Revised: 20 June 2013 / Accepted: 24 June 2013 / Published: 3 July 2013
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (469 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper examines the concept of “quiet” as an “environmental value” in terms of amenity and wellbeing from a legislative context. Critical review of two pieces of environmental legislation from Australia and New Zealand forms the basis of the paper. The Australian legislation
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This paper examines the concept of “quiet” as an “environmental value” in terms of amenity and wellbeing from a legislative context. Critical review of two pieces of environmental legislation from Australia and New Zealand forms the basis of the paper. The Australian legislation is Queensland’s Environmental Protection Act, and the New Zealand legislation is that nation’s Resource Management Act. Quiet is part of the psychoacoustic continuum between a tranquil and an intrusively noisy sound environment. As such, quiet possesses intrinsic value in terms of overall sound within the environment (soundscape) and to individuals and communities. In both pieces of legislation, guidance, either directly or indirectly, is given to “maximum” sound levels to describe the acoustic environment. Only in Queensland is wellbeing and amenity described as environmental values, while in the New Zealand approach, amenity is identified as the core value to defend, but guidance is not well established. Wellbeing can be related to degrees of quietness and the absence of intrusive noise, the character of sound within an environment (“soundscape”), as well as the overall level of sound. The quality of life experienced by individuals is related to that person’s physical and mental health, sense of amenity and wellbeing. These characteristics can be described in terms of subjective and objective measures, though legislation does not always acknowledge the subjective. Full article
Open AccessArticle The Soundscape Quality in Some Urban Parks in Milan, Italy
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(6), 2348-2369; doi:10.3390/ijerph10062348
Received: 3 March 2013 / Revised: 17 April 2013 / Accepted: 28 May 2013 / Published: 6 June 2013
Cited by 19 | PDF Full-text (673 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Urban parks play an important role in preserving and promoting the health of citizens who are often exposed to noise pollution and the stress of daily life. The present study describes the main results obtained from a survey performed in five urban parks
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Urban parks play an important role in preserving and promoting the health of citizens who are often exposed to noise pollution and the stress of daily life. The present study describes the main results obtained from a survey performed in five urban parks in Milan. Measurements of the acoustic environment were carried out in 29 sites together with interviews with 231 users on certain aspects of the parks not limited to merely sound. Acoustic data show that the surveyed parks mostly do not comply with the noise limit issued by the Italian legislation on protected areas. The unweighted 1/3-octave spectrum centre of gravity G and LA50 perform satisfactorily in discriminating among the acoustic environments. Such clear distinction was not observed in the subjective ratings on the perceived quality of the soundscape, likely due to the influence by non-acoustic factors that act as mediators in the assessment. This hypothesis is supported by the collected data on the perceived quality of quietness, which was rated worse than that of the soundscape. Comparing acoustic data with ratings, the perceived quality of the total environment was found to be less dependent on LAeq than soundscape and quietness. Full article
Open AccessArticle Road Traffic Noise and Annoyance: A Quantification of the Effect of Quiet Side Exposure at Dwellings
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(6), 2258-2270; doi:10.3390/ijerph10062258
Received: 24 February 2013 / Revised: 7 May 2013 / Accepted: 20 May 2013 / Published: 3 June 2013
Cited by 8 | PDF Full-text (345 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Previous studies indicate that residents may benefit from a “quiet side” to their dwellings. The influence of the level of road traffic noise exposure at the least exposed side on road traffic noise annoyance was studied in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Road traffic noise
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Previous studies indicate that residents may benefit from a “quiet side” to their dwellings. The influence of the level of road traffic noise exposure at the least exposed side on road traffic noise annoyance was studied in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Road traffic noise exposure was assessed at the most and least exposed façade (Lden,most and Lden,least respectively) of dwellings for subjects in a population based survey (N = 1,967). It was investigated if and to what extent relative quietness at the least exposed façade affected the level of road traffic noise annoyance by comparing two groups: (1) The subgroup with a relatively quiet façade; (2) the subgroup without a relatively quiet façade (large versus small difference in exposure between most and least exposed façade; DIF ≥ 10 dB and DIF < 10 dB respectively). In addition, it was investigated if and to what extent Lden,least affected the level of road traffic noise annoyance. Results indicate a significantly lower road traffic noise annoyance score at a given Lden,most, in the subgroup with DIF ≥ 10 dB versus DIF < 10 dB. Furthermore, results suggest an effect of Lden,least independent of Lden,most. The estimated size of the effect expressed in an equivalent change in Lden,most approximated 5 dB for both the difference between the two subgroups (DIF ≥ 10 dB and DIF < 10 dB), and for a 10 dB change in Lden,least. Full article
Open AccessArticle The Effects of Vision-Related Aspects on Noise Perception of Wind Turbines in Quiet Areas
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(5), 1681-1697; doi:10.3390/ijerph10051681
Received: 25 February 2013 / Revised: 9 April 2013 / Accepted: 16 April 2013 / Published: 26 April 2013
Cited by 23 | PDF Full-text (451 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Preserving the soundscape and geographic extension of quiet areas is a great challenge against the wide-spreading of environmental noise. The E.U. Environmental Noise Directive underlines the need to preserve quiet areas as a new aim for the management of noise in European countries.
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Preserving the soundscape and geographic extension of quiet areas is a great challenge against the wide-spreading of environmental noise. The E.U. Environmental Noise Directive underlines the need to preserve quiet areas as a new aim for the management of noise in European countries. At the same time, due to their low population density, rural areas characterized by suitable wind are considered appropriate locations for installing wind farms. However, despite the fact that wind farms are represented as environmentally friendly projects, these plants are often viewed as visual and audible intruders, that spoil the landscape and generate noise. Even though the correlations are still unclear, it is obvious that visual impacts of wind farms could increase due to their size and coherence with respect to the rural/quiet environment. In this paper, by using the Immersive Virtual Reality technique, some visual and acoustical aspects of the impact of a wind farm on a sample of subjects were assessed and analyzed. The subjects were immersed in a virtual scenario that represented a situation of a typical rural outdoor scenario that they experienced at different distances from the wind turbines. The influence of the number and the colour of wind turbines on global, visual and auditory judgment were investigated. The main results showed that, regarding the number of wind turbines, the visual component has a weak effect on individual reactions, while the colour influences both visual and auditory individual reactions, although in a different way. Full article
Open AccessArticle How Pleasant Sounds Promote and Annoying Sounds Impede Health: A Cognitive Approach
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(4), 1439-1461; doi:10.3390/ijerph10041439
Received: 11 February 2013 / Revised: 19 March 2013 / Accepted: 21 March 2013 / Published: 8 April 2013
Cited by 14 | PDF Full-text (417 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This theoretical paper addresses the cognitive functions via which quiet and in general pleasurable sounds promote and annoying sounds impede health. The article comprises a literature analysis and an interpretation of how the bidirectional influence of appraising the environment and the feelings of
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This theoretical paper addresses the cognitive functions via which quiet and in general pleasurable sounds promote and annoying sounds impede health. The article comprises a literature analysis and an interpretation of how the bidirectional influence of appraising the environment and the feelings of the perceiver can be understood in terms of core affect and motivation. This conceptual basis allows the formulation of a detailed cognitive model describing how sonic content, related to indicators of safety and danger, either allows full freedom over mind-states or forces the activation of a vigilance function with associated arousal. The model leads to a number of detailed predictions that can be used to provide existing soundscape approaches with a solid cognitive science foundation that may lead to novel approaches to soundscape design. These will take into account that louder sounds typically contribute to distal situational awareness while subtle environmental sounds provide proximal situational awareness. The role of safety indicators, mediated by proximal situational awareness and subtle sounds, should become more important in future soundscape research. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Do Quiet Areas Afford Greater Health-Related Quality of Life than Noisy Areas?
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(4), 1284-1303; doi:10.3390/ijerph10041284
Received: 5 February 2013 / Revised: 18 March 2013 / Accepted: 19 March 2013 / Published: 27 March 2013
Cited by 19 | PDF Full-text (199 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
People typically choose to live in quiet areas in order to safeguard their health and wellbeing. However, the benefits of living in quiet areas are relatively understudied compared to the burdens associated with living in noisy areas. Additionally, research is increasingly focusing on
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People typically choose to live in quiet areas in order to safeguard their health and wellbeing. However, the benefits of living in quiet areas are relatively understudied compared to the burdens associated with living in noisy areas. Additionally, research is increasingly focusing on the relationship between the human response to noise and measures of health and wellbeing, complementing traditional dose-response approaches, and further elucidating the impact of noise and health by incorporating human factors as mediators and moderators. To further explore the benefits of living in quiet areas, we compared the results of health-related quality of life (HRQOL) questionnaire datasets collected from households in localities differentiated by their soundscapes and population density: noisy city, quiet city, quiet rural, and noisy rural. The dose-response relationships between noise annoyance and HRQOL measures indicated an inverse relationship between the two. Additionally, quiet areas were found to have higher mean HRQOL domain scores than noisy areas. This research further supports the protection of quiet locales and ongoing noise abatement in noisy areas. Full article
Open AccessArticle Focused Study on the Quiet Side Effect in Dwellings Highly Exposed to Road Traffic Noise
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2012, 9(12), 4292-4310; doi:10.3390/ijerph9124292
Received: 16 October 2012 / Revised: 19 November 2012 / Accepted: 19 November 2012 / Published: 22 November 2012
Cited by 23 | PDF Full-text (625 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This study provides additional evidence for the positive effect of the presence of a quiet façade at a dwelling and aims at unraveling potential mechanisms. Locations with dominant road traffic noise and high Lden-levels at the most exposed façade were selected. Dwellings both
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This study provides additional evidence for the positive effect of the presence of a quiet façade at a dwelling and aims at unraveling potential mechanisms. Locations with dominant road traffic noise and high Lden-levels at the most exposed façade were selected. Dwellings both with and without a quiet façade were deliberately sought out. Face-to-face questionnaires (N = 100) were taken to study the influence of the presence of a quiet side in relation to noise annoyance and sleep disturbance. As a direct effect, the absence of a quiet façade in the dwelling (approached as a front-back façade noise level difference smaller than 10 dBA) leads to an important increase of at least moderately annoyed people (odds-ratio adjusted for noise sensitivity equals 3.3). In an indirect way, a bedroom located at the quiet side leads to an even stronger reduction of the self-reported noise annoyance (odds-ratio equal to 10.6 when adjusted for noise sensitivity and front façade Lden). The quiet side effect seems to be especially applicable for noise sensitive persons. A bedroom located at the quiet side also reduces noise-induced sleep disturbances. On a loud side, bedroom windows are more often closed, however, conflicting with the preference of dwellers. Full article
Open AccessArticle Valuation of Green Walls and Green Roofs as Soundscape Measures: Including Monetised Amenity Values Together with Noise-attenuation Values in a Cost-benefit Analysis of a Green Wall Affecting Courtyards
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2012, 9(11), 3770-3788; doi:10.3390/ijerph9113770
Received: 16 July 2012 / Revised: 5 September 2012 / Accepted: 2 October 2012 / Published: 24 October 2012
Cited by 15 | PDF Full-text (1407 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Economic unit values of soundscape/acoustic effects have been based on changes in the number of annoyed persons or on decibel changes. The normal procedure has been the application of these unit values to noise-attenuation measures affecting the noisier façade of a dwelling. Novel
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Economic unit values of soundscape/acoustic effects have been based on changes in the number of annoyed persons or on decibel changes. The normal procedure has been the application of these unit values to noise-attenuation measures affecting the noisier façade of a dwelling. Novel modular vegetation-based soundscape measures, so-called green walls, might be relevant for both noisy and quieter areas. Moreover, their benefits will comprise noise attenuation as well as non-acoustic amenity effects. One challenge is to integrate the results of some decades of non-acoustic research on the amenity value of urban greenery into design of the urban sound environment, and incorporate these non-acoustic properties in the overall economic assessment of noise control and overall sound environment improvement measures. Monetised unit values for green walls have been included in two alternative cases, or demonstration projects, of covering the entrances to blocks of flats with a green wall. Since these measures improve the noise environment on the quiet side of the dwellings and courtyards, not the most exposed façade, adjustment factors to the nominal quiet side decibel reductions to arrive at an estimate of the equivalent overall acoustic improvement have been applied. A cost-benefit analysis of the green wall case indicates that this measure is economically promising, when valuing the noise attenuation in the quieter area and adding the amenity/aesthetic value of the green wall. Full article
Open AccessArticle Quiet Areas and the Need for Quietness in Amsterdam
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2012, 9(4), 1030-1050; doi:10.3390/ijerph9041030
Received: 8 March 2012 / Revised: 15 March 2012 / Accepted: 19 March 2012 / Published: 23 March 2012
Cited by 21 | PDF Full-text (980 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper describes the Quiet Places Project in Amsterdam. The purpose of the study was to find out: (1) which public quiet places there are according to Amsterdam residents; (2) what characterizes a quiet place; (3) to what extent do residents want peace
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This paper describes the Quiet Places Project in Amsterdam. The purpose of the study was to find out: (1) which public quiet places there are according to Amsterdam residents; (2) what characterizes a quiet place; (3) to what extent do residents want peace and quiet; (4) how do residents realize these needs. The factors determining the need for quietness are presented in a model showing the influence of demographic and socio-economic issues, health status, sensitiveness to noise, daily activities and the noisiness in and around home. Most important of these factors is sensitivity to noise. Elderly and less healthy people are more often sensitive to noise. People who are annoyed by sound from traffic, airplanes and the like show a higher need for quietness. People with a lively household or neighbourhood report lower needs for quietness. Visiting a quiet place and going outside to walk or bike can have a compensating effect on the need for quietness. This suggests that creating quiet places and enhancing possibilities for quiet recreation in urban environments can have a positive effect on the quality of life in the city. Objective noise levels at the quiet places were taken from environmental noise maps. This shows that there may be a preference for low transportation noise levels, but levels up to 60 dB Lday are acceptable. Apparently this depends on a relative quietness or on non-acoustic characteristics of an area: the presence of vegetation and other pleasant stimuli. Full article

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