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Special Issue "Promoting Healthy and Supportive Acoustic Environments: Going beyond the Quietness"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Environmental Science and Engineering".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2019).

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A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Francesco Aletta
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering, The Bartlett, University College London (UCL), 14 Upper Woburn Place, London WC1H 0NN, UK
Interests: environmental acoustics; soundscape; community noise; noise annoyance; urban planning; environmental design; environmental assessment; landscape design
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Jian Kang
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering, The Bartlett, University College London, London WC1H 0NN, UK
Interests: environmental acoustics; building acoustics; soundscape; noise control
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

When confronted with the topic of the quality of the acoustic environments, societies and communities around the world tend to consider “sound” mainly in its negative facet of “noise”. This approach is reflected in a number of recommendations and prescriptions to reduce people’s exposure to excessive sound levels from transportation and industry, promoted by international institutions and authorities, such as the World Health Organization or the European Union. Notwithstanding, such a strategy is not always effective in delivering the desired enhancements in terms of health and quality of life, and this is because “quietness” is not necessarily to define an acoustic environment of high quality. Indeed, environmental sounds often have a positive effect, as they provide information, communicate safety, enable certain desirable activities, and, more generally, contribute to people’s appeasement and psychophysical well-being. With the rapid increase of urbanization, more research is needed towards new approaches for the characterisation, management, and design of urban acoustic environments that support (and not only allow) restoration, health, and better quality of life, as well as basic research on the mechanisms underpinning the perception of environmental sounds in context and how their experience might affect health-related outcomes.

This Special Issue aims to gather contributions related (but not limited) to inter- and trans-disciplinary approaches to the characterisation of the quality of the acoustic environments; perception of acoustic environments, or soundscapes; relationship between acoustic environments and positive health-related effects; new prediction and modelling methodologies for the acoustic environments and their qualities; mapping and monitoring of sound sources in the built environment; and the relationship between sound, space, and behaviour in the built environment. Contributions from a range of disciplines are welcome, including soundscape studies, noise control engineering, environmental design, social sciences, architecture and urban planning, spatial analysis, environmental psychology, epidemiology, and public health.

Dr. Francesco Aletta
Prof. Jian Kang
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind 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 semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • environmental acoustics
  • community noise
  • quiet areas
  • soundscape, sound perception
  • noise mapping
  • noise annoyance
  • urban sound planning
  • environmental health
  • Quality of Life (QoL)
  • Quality of Experience (QoE)

Published Papers (17 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Promoting Healthy and Supportive Acoustic Environments: Going beyond the Quietness
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(24), 4988; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16244988 - 08 Dec 2019
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1114
Abstract
When confronted with the topic of the quality of the acoustic environments, society and communities around the world tend to consider “sound” mainly in its negative facet of “noise” [...] Full article

Research

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Article
Listening to Japanese Gardens: An Autoethnographic Study on the Soundscape Action Design Tool
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(23), 4648; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16234648 - 22 Nov 2019
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1529
Abstract
Landscape architecture and urban design disciplines could benefit from soundscape thinking in order to enhance experiential qualities in their projects, though the available tools are not yet fully developed nor tested. The present research aims to substantiate one of the available tools, Soundscape [...] Read more.
Landscape architecture and urban design disciplines could benefit from soundscape thinking in order to enhance experiential qualities in their projects, though the available tools are not yet fully developed nor tested. The present research aims to substantiate one of the available tools, Soundscape Actions, and thereby increase the understanding of soundscape design. The study focuses on the Japanese garden tradition, which is known for high preference ratings, tranquil qualities and consideration for sound and other sensory experiences. An autoethnographic approach was used to conduct field studies in 88 gardens in Japan, the majority of which are located in urban areas with potential noise disturbance. The studies are based on observations in situ, supported by video documentation, field recordings and readings of sound pressure levels (SPL). A total of 19 Soundscape Actions are described and discussed in the paper. They are structured around three main categories: localisation of functions, reduction of unwanted sounds and introduction of wanted sounds. The study provides concrete examples of how the tool can be used to enhance tranquil qualities, particularly focusing on small green spaces in dense urban settings, involving the (simultaneous) reduction of unwanted sounds and enhancement of wanted sounds/effects. The autoethnographic approach allowed for the phenomenological perspective to be brought forward, which contributed new insights regarding the design tool. The findings are discussed in relation to health and soundscape research, focusing on multisensory experiences, masking strategies and potentials for implementation and future developments of the design tool. Full article
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Article
Soundtracking the Public Space: Outcomes of the Musikiosk Soundscape Intervention
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(10), 1865; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16101865 - 27 May 2019
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 1680
Abstract
Decades of research support the idea that striving for lower sound levels is the cornerstone of protecting urban public health. Growing insight on urban soundscapes, however, highlights a more complex role of sound in public spaces, mediated by context, and the potential of [...] Read more.
Decades of research support the idea that striving for lower sound levels is the cornerstone of protecting urban public health. Growing insight on urban soundscapes, however, highlights a more complex role of sound in public spaces, mediated by context, and the potential of soundscape interventions to contribute to the urban experience. We discuss Musikiosk, an unsupervised installation allowing users to play audio content from their own devices over publicly provided speakers. Deployed in the gazebo of a pocket park in Montreal (Parc du Portugal), in the summer of 2015, its effects over the quality of the public urban experience of park users were researched using a mixed methods approach, combining questionnaires, interviews, behavioral observations, and acoustic monitoring, as well as public outreach activities. An integrated analysis of results revealed positive outcomes both at the individual level (in terms of soundscape evaluations and mood benefits) and at the social level (in terms of increased interaction and lingering behaviors). The park was perceived as more pleasant and convivial for both users and non-users, and the perceived soundscape calmness and appropriateness were not affected. Musikiosk animated an underused section of the park without displacing existing users while promoting increased interaction and sharing, particularly of music. It also led to a strategy for interacting with both residents and city decision-makers on matters related to urban sound. Full article
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Article
The Influence of Audio-Visual Interactions on Psychological Responses of Young People in Urban Green Areas: A Case Study in Two Parks in China
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(10), 1845; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16101845 - 24 May 2019
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1541
Abstract
Audio-visual interactions in green spaces are important for mental health and wellbeing. However, the influence of audio-visual interactions on psychological responses is still less clear. This study introduced a new method, namely the audio-visual walk (AV-walk), to obtain data on the audio-visual context, [...] Read more.
Audio-visual interactions in green spaces are important for mental health and wellbeing. However, the influence of audio-visual interactions on psychological responses is still less clear. This study introduced a new method, namely the audio-visual walk (AV-walk), to obtain data on the audio-visual context, audio-visual experiences, and psychological responses in two typical parks, namely Cloves Park and Music Park in Harbin, China. Some interesting results are as follows: First, based on Pearson’s correlation analysis, sound pressure level and roughness were significantly correlated with psychological responses in Cloves Park (p < 0.05). Second, the results of stepwise regression models showed the impact intensity of acoustic comfort was 1.64–1.68 times higher than that of visual comfort on psychological responses of emotion dimension, while visual comfort was 1.35–1.37 times higher than acoustic comfort on psychological responses of cognition dimension in Music Park. In addition, an orthogonal analysis diagram explained the influence of audio-visual interactions on psychological responses of young people. The audio-visual context located beside the waterscape with a relatively higher level of acoustic and visual comfort was the most cheerful (2.60), relaxed (2.45), and energetic (2.05), while the audio-visual context close to an urban built environment tended to be both acoustically and visually uncomfortable, and the psychological state was decreased to the most depressed (−0.25), anxious (−0.75), fatigued (−1.13) and distracted (−1.13). Full article
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Article
Exploring the Relationship between Urban Quiet Areas and Perceived Restorative Benefits
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(9), 1611; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16091611 - 08 May 2019
Cited by 15 | Viewed by 2019
Abstract
To help mitigate the adverse health impacts of environmental noise, European cities are recommended to identify urban quiet areas for preservation. Procedures for identifying urban quiet areas vary across cities and between countries, and little is known of the strength of the salutogenic [...] Read more.
To help mitigate the adverse health impacts of environmental noise, European cities are recommended to identify urban quiet areas for preservation. Procedures for identifying urban quiet areas vary across cities and between countries, and little is known of the strength of the salutogenic (health-promoting) benefits they may provide. Taking a multi-site approach, this study examines the potential of three sites as urban quiet areas and their associated health benefits, particularly in relation to perceived restorative benefits. Across three cities in the United Kingdom, an urban garden, urban park, and an urban square had sound pressure levels measured. Responses from 151 visitors to these sites evaluated the place as quiet, calm, and tranquil, and assessed their experience of the place in terms of perceived sounds, its benefits, how it made them feel, and perceived restoration. Depending on the criteria used, the sites varied in their suitability as urban quiet areas, although all provided perceived health benefits. Relationships between sound levels (subjective and objective) and perceived restoration were not linear, with the type of sounds heard and other aspects of the place experience believed to affect the relationship. Building on this work, a future experimental approach based on the study sites is planned to manipulate the multiple variables involved. This will provide a clearer understanding of the relationship between urban quiet areas and perceived restorative benefits. Full article
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Article
Sounds of Nature in the City: No Evidence of Bird Song Improving Stress Recovery
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(8), 1390; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16081390 - 17 Apr 2019
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 3572
Abstract
Noise from city traffic is one of the most significant environmental stressors. Natural soundscapes, such as bird songs, have been suggested to potentially mitigate or mask noise. All previous studies on masking noise use self-evaluation data rather than physiological data. In this study, [...] Read more.
Noise from city traffic is one of the most significant environmental stressors. Natural soundscapes, such as bird songs, have been suggested to potentially mitigate or mask noise. All previous studies on masking noise use self-evaluation data rather than physiological data. In this study, while respondents (n = 117) watched a 360° virtual reality (VR) photograph of a park, they were exposed to different soundscapes and mild electrical shocks. The soundscapes—“bird song”, “bird song and traffic noise”, and “traffic noise”—were played during a 10 min recovery period while their skin conductance levels were assessed as a measure of arousal/stress. No significant difference in stress recovery was found between the soundscapes although a tendency for less stress in “bird song” and more stress in “traffic noise” was noted. All three soundscapes, however, significantly reduced stress. This result could be attributed to the stress-reducing effect of the visual VR environment, to the noise levels being higher than 47 dBA (a level known to make masking ineffective), or to the respondents finding bird songs stressful. Reduction of stress in cities using masking with natural sounds requires further studies with not only larger samples but also sufficient methods to detect potential sex differences. Full article
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Article
Going beyond Quietness: Determining the Emotionally Restorative Effect of Acoustic Environments in Urban Open Public Spaces
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(7), 1284; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16071284 - 10 Apr 2019
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1812
Abstract
The capacity of natural settings to promote psychological restoration has attracted increasing research attention, especially with regards to the visual dimension. However, there is a need to extend these studies to urban settings, such as squares, parks or gardens, due to the global [...] Read more.
The capacity of natural settings to promote psychological restoration has attracted increasing research attention, especially with regards to the visual dimension. However, there is a need to extend these studies to urban settings, such as squares, parks or gardens, due to the global trend towards urbanisation, and to integrate the dimension of sound into landscape. Such was the main aim of this study, in which 53 participants assessed four public spaces in Vitoria-Gasteiz (Spain) as part of the CITI-SENSE Project (137 observations were used for analysis). A smartphone application was used to simultaneously collect objective and subjective data. The results show that at the end of the urban environmental experience, there was a statistically significant reduction in negative emotions and perceived stress, and a slight increase in positive emotions. Emotional restoration was mainly associated with prior emotional states, but also with global environmental comfort and acoustic comfort. The soundscape characteristics that contributed to greater emotional restoration and a reduction in perceived stress were pleasantness, calm, fun and naturalness. Therefore, in agreement with previous research, the findings of the present study indicate that besides contributing to the quietness of the urban environment, the urban soundscape can promote psychological restoration in users of these spaces. Full article
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Article
On the Person-Place Interaction and Its Relationship with the Responses/Outcomes of Listeners of Urban Soundscape (Compared Cases of Lisbon and Bogotá): Contextual and Semiotic Aspects
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(4), 551; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16040551 - 14 Feb 2019
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1278
Abstract
Design, planning, and management of the urban soundscape require various interacting fields of knowledge given the fact that it is the human person that experiences and provides meaning to the urban places and their acoustic environments. The process of environmental perception involves contextual [...] Read more.
Design, planning, and management of the urban soundscape require various interacting fields of knowledge given the fact that it is the human person that experiences and provides meaning to the urban places and their acoustic environments. The process of environmental perception involves contextual information that conditions people’s responses and outcomes through the relationship between the variables Person, Activity, and Place. This research focuses on the interaction between Person and Place and its impact on responses and outcomes from listeners with different geographical origin and background. Laboratory studies were conducted in the cities of Lisbon (Portugal) and Bogotá (Colombia), where local listeners were introduced to known and unknown acoustic environments. Sound data recorded in the two cities allowed comparison of responses and outcomes of the listeners according to the Person-Place Interaction, leading to different meanings depending on the contextual variables. The results clearly show a relationship between site, acoustic environment, soundscape, Person-Place Interaction, and meaning of the place. This information can be useful for urban technicians and designers dealing with planning and management of urban soundscapes. Full article
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Article
Restorative Effects of Classroom Soundscapes on Children’s Cognitive Performance
by and
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(2), 293; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16020293 - 21 Jan 2019
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 2197
Abstract
Previous studies have examined the restorative benefits of soundscapes on adults’ cognitive performance, but it was unclear whether those benefits would be possible for children. In this paper, two experiments applied a before–after design to explore the restorative effects of different soundscapes on [...] Read more.
Previous studies have examined the restorative benefits of soundscapes on adults’ cognitive performance, but it was unclear whether those benefits would be possible for children. In this paper, two experiments applied a before–after design to explore the restorative effects of different soundscapes on children’s sustained attention and short-term memory, respectively, in a simulated classroom situation. In Experiment 1, 46 children aged 8–12 were first mentally fatigued by performing an oral arithmetic task and then were asked to conduct a sustained attention to response test (SART), in order to assess their attention fatigue. After that, a period of 3-min soundscape was presented, and SART was conducted again to examine their attention recovery. In Experiment 2, 45 children participated and the experiment procedure was the same as in Experiment 1, except that a digit span test (DST) was used instead to measure short-term memory. The results showed that music, birdsong, fountain sound, and stream sound facilitated greater recovery than other sounds in reaction time. Participants also showed better performance in short-term memory after exposure to fountain sound and stream sound, followed by music and birdsong. Those results confirmed the actual restorative effects of perceived restorative soundscapes on children’s cognitive performance. Full article
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Article
A Cross-Sectional Survey on the Impact of Irrelevant Speech Noise on Annoyance, Mental Health and Well-being, Performance and Occupants’ Behavior in Shared and Open-Plan Offices
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(2), 280; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16020280 - 19 Jan 2019
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 2739
Abstract
This cross-sectional survey has compared subjective outcomes obtained from workers in shared (2–5 occupants) and open-plan (+5 occupants) offices, related to irrelevant speech, which is the noise that is generated from conversations between colleagues, telephone calls and laughter. Answers from 1078 subjects (55% [...] Read more.
This cross-sectional survey has compared subjective outcomes obtained from workers in shared (2–5 occupants) and open-plan (+5 occupants) offices, related to irrelevant speech, which is the noise that is generated from conversations between colleagues, telephone calls and laughter. Answers from 1078 subjects (55% in shared offices and 45% in open-plan offices) have shown that irrelevant speech increases noise annoyance, decreases work performance, and increases symptoms related to mental health and well-being more in open-plan than in shared offices. Workers often use headphones with music to contrast irrelevant speech in open-plan offices, while they take a break, change their working space, close the door or work from home in shared offices. Being female, when there are more than 20 occupants, and working in southern cities without acoustic treatments in the office, make it more likely for the occupants to be annoyed by irrelevant speech noise in open-plan offices. While, working in southern cities and with acoustic treatments in the office makes it more likely that noise annoyance will be reported in shared offices. Finally, more than 70% of the interviewed in open-plan offices were willing to reduce their voice volumes when advised by a noise monitoring system with a lighting feedback. Full article
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Article
Acoustic Comfort in Virtual Inner Yards with Various Building Facades
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(2), 249; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16020249 - 16 Jan 2019
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 1839
Abstract
Housing complex residents in urban areas are not only confronted with typical noise sources, but also everyday life sounds, e.g., in the yards. Therefore, they might benefit from the increasing interest in soundscape design and acoustic comfort improvement. Three laboratory experiments (with repeated-measures [...] Read more.
Housing complex residents in urban areas are not only confronted with typical noise sources, but also everyday life sounds, e.g., in the yards. Therefore, they might benefit from the increasing interest in soundscape design and acoustic comfort improvement. Three laboratory experiments (with repeated-measures complete block designs) are reported here, in which effects of several variables on short-term acoustic comfort were investigated. A virtual reference inner yard in the ODEON software environment was systematically modified by absorbers on building facades, whereby single-channel recordings were spatialized for a 2D playback in laboratory. Facade absorption was found, generally, to increase acoustic comfort. Too much absorption, however, was not found to be helpful. In the absence of any absorbers on the facade, absorbing balcony ceilings tended to improve acoustic comfort, however, non-significantly. Pleasant and unpleasant sounds were associated with comfort and discomfort, accordingly. This should encourage architects and acousticians to create comfortable inner yard sound environments, where pleasant and unpleasant sound occurrence probabilities are designed to be high and low, respectively. Furthermore, significant differences were observed between acoustic comfort at distinct observer positions, which could be exploited when designing inner yards. Full article
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Article
Implementation of Quiet Areas in Sweden
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(1), 134; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16010134 - 07 Jan 2019
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2273
Abstract
The notion of quiet areas has received increasing attention within the EU in recent years. The EU Environmental Noise Directive (END) of 2002 stipulates that member states should map existing quiet areas and formulate strategies to keep these quiet. Quiet areas could play [...] Read more.
The notion of quiet areas has received increasing attention within the EU in recent years. The EU Environmental Noise Directive (END) of 2002 stipulates that member states should map existing quiet areas and formulate strategies to keep these quiet. Quiet areas could play an important role in balancing densified urban development by ensuring access to relative quietness and associated health benefits. This paper reports on a recent study investigating how the notion of quiet areas has been implemented in Sweden. The study, initiated by the Sound Environment Center in 2017, was carried out in two phases. In phase one, an overview of the current situation was obtained by scrutinizing regional and municipal mapping initiatives, aided by a short digital questionnaire sent out to all 290 municipalities in Sweden. This provided a general understanding and highlighted initiatives for further study in phase two. The results revealed that 41% (n = 118) of Sweden’s municipalities include quiet areas in their general plans, but that significantly fewer of these have sophisticated strategies for implementation (n = 16; 6%). Moreover, the interest in quiet areas in municipalities does not seem to be directly related to the END, but is instead inspired by previous regional initiatives in Sweden. The study highlights a number of considerations and examples of how quiet areas are approached in Sweden today. In general, Sweden has come a long way in terms of identifying and mapping quiet areas, but more progress is needed in developing strategies to protect, maintain, and publicize quiet areas. Full article
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Article
Towards an Urban Vibrancy Model: A Soundscape Approach
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(8), 1712; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15081712 - 10 Aug 2018
Cited by 34 | Viewed by 2328
Abstract
Soundscape research needs to develop predictive tools for environmental design. A number of descriptor-indicator(s) models have been proposed so far, particularly for the “tranquility” dimension to manage “quiet areas” in urban contexts. However, there is a current lack of models addressing environments offering [...] Read more.
Soundscape research needs to develop predictive tools for environmental design. A number of descriptor-indicator(s) models have been proposed so far, particularly for the “tranquility” dimension to manage “quiet areas” in urban contexts. However, there is a current lack of models addressing environments offering actively engaging soundscapes, i.e., the “vibrancy” dimension. The main aim of this study was to establish a predictive model for a vibrancy descriptor based on physical parameters, which could be used by designers and practitioners. A group interview was carried out to formulate a hypothesis on what elements would be influential for vibrancy perception. Afterwards, data on vibrancy perception were collected for different locations in the UK and China through a laboratory experiment and their physical parameters were used as indicators to establish a predictive model. Such indicators included both aural and visual parameters. The model, based on Roughness, Presence of People, Fluctuation Strength, Loudness and Presence of Music as predictors, explained 76% of the variance in the mean individual vibrancy scores. A statistically significant correlation was found between vibrancy scores and eventfulness scores, but not between vibrancy scores and pleasantness scores. Overall results showed that vibrancy is contextual and depends both on the soundscape and on the visual scenery. Full article
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Article
Lower Noise Annoyance Associated with GIS-Derived Greenspace: Pathways through Perceived Greenspace and Residential Noise
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(7), 1533; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15071533 - 19 Jul 2018
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 1882
Abstract
Growing amounts of evidence support an association between self-reported greenspace near the home and lower noise annoyance; however, objectively defined greenspace has rarely been considered. In the present study, we tested the association between objective measures of greenspace and noise annoyance, with a [...] Read more.
Growing amounts of evidence support an association between self-reported greenspace near the home and lower noise annoyance; however, objectively defined greenspace has rarely been considered. In the present study, we tested the association between objective measures of greenspace and noise annoyance, with a focus on underpinning pathways through noise level and perceived greenspace. We sampled 720 students aged 18 to 35 years from the city of Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Objective greenspace was defined by several Geographic Information System (GIS)-derived metrics: Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), tree cover density, percentage of green space in circular buffers of 100, 300 and 500 m, and the Euclidean distance to the nearest structured green space. Perceived greenspace was defined by the mean of responses to five items asking about its quantity, accessibility, visibility, usage, and quality. We assessed noise annoyance due to transportation and other neighborhood noise sources and daytime noise level (Lday) at the residence. Tests of the parallel mediation models showed that higher NDVI and percentage of green space in all buffers were associated with lower noise annoyance, whereas for higher tree cover this association was observed only in the 100 m buffer zone. In addition, the effects of NDVI and percentage of green space were mediated by higher perceived greenspace and lower Lday. In the case of tree cover, only perceived greenspace was a mediator. Our findings suggest that the potential for greenspace to reduce noise annoyance extends beyond noise abatement. Applying a combination of GIS-derived and perceptual measures should enable researchers to better tap individuals’ experience of residential greenspace and noise. Full article
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Review

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Review
The Psychophysiological Implications of Soundscape: A Systematic Review of Empirical Literature and a Research Agenda
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(19), 3533; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16193533 - 21 Sep 2019
Cited by 22 | Viewed by 2551
Abstract
The soundscape is defined by the International Standard Organization (ISO) 12913-1 as the human’s perception of the acoustic environment, in context, accompanying physiological and psychological responses. Previous research is synthesized with studies designed to investigate soundscape at the ‘unconscious’ level in an effort [...] Read more.
The soundscape is defined by the International Standard Organization (ISO) 12913-1 as the human’s perception of the acoustic environment, in context, accompanying physiological and psychological responses. Previous research is synthesized with studies designed to investigate soundscape at the ‘unconscious’ level in an effort to more specifically conceptualize biomarkers of the soundscape. This review aims firstly, to investigate the consistency of methodologies applied for the investigation of physiological aspects of soundscape; secondly, to underline the feasibility of physiological markers as biomarkers of soundscape; and finally, to explore the association between the physiological responses and the well-founded psychological components of the soundscape which are continually advancing. For this review, Web of Science, PubMed, Scopus, and PsycINFO were searched for peer-reviewed articles published in English with combinations of the keywords ‘soundscape’, ‘environmental noise/sound’, ‘physiology/physiological’, ‘psychology/psychological’, and ‘perceptual attributes/affective/subjective assessment/appraisals’. Previous research suggests that Electrocardiography (ECG) and Vectorcardiography (VCG) biometrics quantifying Heart Rate (HR), stimulus-locked experimental design, and passive listening with homogeneous populations are predominantly applied to characterize the psychophysiology underlying the soundscape. Pleasantness and arousal are the most frequent psychological descriptors for soundscape subjective appraisals. Likewise, acoustic environments are reported to inconsistently evoke physiological responses with great variability among studies. The link between the perceptual attributes and physiological responses of soundscape vary within and among existing literature. While a few studies detected a link between physiological manifestations of soundscape and the perceptual attributes, the others failed to validate this link. Additionally, the majority of the study findings were limited to one or two physiological responses. Full article
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Review
Associations between Positive Health-Related Effects and Soundscapes Perceptual Constructs: A Systematic Review
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(11), 2392; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15112392 - 29 Oct 2018
Cited by 57 | Viewed by 2716
Abstract
In policy-making and research alike, environmental sounds are often considered only as psychophysical stressors, leading to adverse health effects. The soundscape approach, on the other hand, aims to extend the scope of sound-related research to consider sounds as resources, promoting healthy and supportive [...] Read more.
In policy-making and research alike, environmental sounds are often considered only as psychophysical stressors, leading to adverse health effects. The soundscape approach, on the other hand, aims to extend the scope of sound-related research to consider sounds as resources, promoting healthy and supportive environments. The ISO 12913-1 standard defined soundscapes as acoustic environments “as perceived by people, in context.” The aim of this study was assessing associations between positive soundscapes (e.g., pleasant, calm, less annoying) and positive health-related effects (e.g., increased restoration, reduced stress-inducing mechanisms, etc.). Studies collecting data about individual responses to urban acoustic environments, and individual responses on psychophysical well-being were selected, looking at cases where positive effects were observed. The Web of Science, Scopus and PubMed databases were searched for peer-reviewed journal papers published in English between 1 January 1991 and 31 May 2018, with combinations of the keywords “soundscape” and at least one among “health”, “well-being” or “quality of life.” An additional manual search was performed on the reference lists of the retrieved items. Inclusion criteria were: (1) including at least one measure of soundscape dimensions as per the ISO 12913-1 definition; (2) including at least one health-related measure (either physiological or psychological); (3) observing/discussing a “positive” effect of the soundscape on the health-related outcome. The search returned 130 results; after removing duplicates, two authors screened titles and abstracts and selected 19 papers for further analysis. Seven studies were eventually included, with 2783 participants in total. Each study included at least a valence-related soundscape measure. Regarding the health-related measures, four studies included physiological monitoring and the remaining three included self-reported psychological measures. Positive soundscapes were associated with faster stress-recovery processes in laboratory experiments, and better self-reported health conditions in large-scale surveys. Due to the limited number of items and differences in measures across studies, no statistical analysis was performed, and a qualitative approach to data synthesis was sought. Results support the claim that, in contrast with looking at noise only as an environmental stressor, sound perception can act as an enhancer of the human experience in the urban realm, from a health-related point of view. Full article
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Other

Brief Report
An Investigation of Soundscape Factors Influencing Perceptions of Square Dancing in Urban Streets: A Case Study in a County Level City in China
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(5), 840; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16050840 - 07 Mar 2019
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1498
Abstract
Square dancing is a popular music-related group physical exercise for health benefits in China mainly participated by mid-aged women and elderly people. This paper investigates the soundscape and enjoyment of the square dancing in urban streets through a case study in Lichuan, a [...] Read more.
Square dancing is a popular music-related group physical exercise for health benefits in China mainly participated by mid-aged women and elderly people. This paper investigates the soundscape and enjoyment of the square dancing in urban streets through a case study in Lichuan, a county level city in southwest China, in December 2017. It examines the impact of gender, age, participation and places on perceptions of square dancing soundscape. Two sites along two main urban streets in the city were selected to conduct onsite investigations where residents spontaneously perform square dancing on a daily basis. Ethnographical observations were conducted to identify the social-physical features and sounds of both sites during the dance and without dance. Sound pressure measurements (LAeq and LAmax) were also conducted under the two conditions. An off-site survey was distributed through the local social media groups to understand residents’ everyday experiences and perceptions of square dancing in the city; 106 responses were received for the off-site survey. T-tests and Chi-squared tests were used for statistical analysis of the survey data. The results show gender does appear to be a factor influencing the regularity of participation in square dancing, with a bias towards more female participants. Participation frequency of square dance has an impact on the enjoyment of square dancing. There is no correlation between the dislike of watching square dancing, or dislike of the music and a desire to restrict locations for square dancing. Full article
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