Air pollution originating from road traffic is a known risk factor of respiratory and cardiovascular disease (both in terms of chronic and acute effects). While adverse effects on cardiovascular health have also been linked with noise (after controlling for air pollution), noise exposure has been commonly linked to sleep impairment and negative emotional reactions. Health is multi-faceted, both conceptually and operationally; Health-Related Quality of Life (HRQOL) is one of many measures capable of probing health. In this study, we examine pre-collected data from postal surveys probing HRQOL obtained from a variety of urban, suburban, and rural contexts across the North Island of New Zealand. Analyses focus on the covariance between air pollution annoyance and noise annoyances, and their independent and combined effects on HRQOL. Results indicate that the highest ratings of air pollution annoyance and noise annoyances were for residents living close to the motorway, while the lowest were for rural residents. Most of the city samples indicated no significant difference between air pollution- and noise-annoyance ratings, and of all of the correlations between air pollution- and noise-annoyance, the highest were found in the city samples. These findings suggest that annoyance is driven by exposure to environmental factors and not personality characteristics. Analysis of HRQOL indicated that air pollution annoyance predicts greater variability in the physical HRQOL domain while noise annoyance predicts greater variability in the psychological, social and environmental domains. The lack of an interaction effect between air pollution annoyance and noise annoyance suggests that air pollution and noise impact on health independently. These results echo those obtained from objective measures of health and suggest that mitigation of traffic effects should address both air and noise pollution.
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