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Open AccessArticle

Differences between Outdoor and Indoor Sound Levels for Open, Tilted, and Closed Windows

Empa, Laboratory for Acoustics/Noise Control, Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, 8600 Dubendorf, Switzerland
Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, 4051 Basel, Switzerland
n-Sphere AG, 8045 Zürich, Switzerland
Centre for Chronobiology, University of Basel, 4001 Basel, Switzerland
Federal Office for the Environment, 3003 Bern, Switzerland
Centre for Chronobiology, Psychiatric Hospital of the University of Basel, 4056 Basel, Switzerland
Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V. (DLR), Institut für Luft- und Raumfahrtmedizin, 51147 Köln, Germany
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Current address: Müller-BBM Schweiz AG, 4123 Allschwil, Switzerland
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(1), 149;
Received: 17 August 2017 / Revised: 24 October 2017 / Accepted: 10 January 2018 / Published: 18 January 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Indoor Environmental Quality)
Noise exposure prediction models for health effect studies normally estimate free field exposure levels outside. However, to assess the noise exposure inside dwellings, an estimate of indoor sound levels is necessary. To date, little field data is available about the difference between indoor and outdoor noise levels and factors affecting the damping of outside noise. This is a major cause of uncertainty in indoor noise exposure prediction and may lead to exposure misclassification in health assessments. This study aims to determine sound level differences between the indoors and the outdoors for different window positions and how this sound damping is related to building characteristics. For this purpose, measurements were carried out at home in a sample of 102 Swiss residents exposed to road traffic noise. Sound pressure level recordings were performed outdoors and indoors, in the living room and in the bedroom. Three scenarios—of open, tilted, and closed windows—were recorded for three minutes each. For each situation, data on additional parameters such as the orientation towards the source, floor, and room, as well as sound insulation characteristics were collected. On that basis, linear regression models were established. The median outdoor–indoor sound level differences were of 10 dB(A) for open, 16 dB(A) for tilted, and 28 dB(A) for closed windows. For open and tilted windows, the most relevant parameters affecting the outdoor–indoor differences were the position of the window, the type and volume of the room, and the age of the building. For closed windows, the relevant parameters were the sound level outside, the material of the window frame, the existence of window gaskets, and the number of windows. View Full-Text
Keywords: sound level differences indoors/outdoors; correction factors; open window; tilted window; closed window; linear model sound level differences indoors/outdoors; correction factors; open window; tilted window; closed window; linear model
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Locher, B.; Piquerez, A.; Habermacher, M.; Ragettli, M.; Röösli, M.; Brink, M.; Cajochen, C.; Vienneau, D.; Foraster, M.; Müller, U.; Wunderli, J.M. Differences between Outdoor and Indoor Sound Levels for Open, Tilted, and Closed Windows. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15, 149.

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