A+A Focus Theme: April, 30th, the "International Noise Awareness Day"

On April, 30th, the "International Noise Awareness Day" is celebrated. This year, the focus of the event is on the increasing daily noise we are exposed to in our environment. Also the "noise environment of children" will play a big role this year.

Numerous studies have shown the consequences of the increasing noise in our society: stress, reduced productivity, and cardiovascular disease. The environmental noise – even if relatively low – increases the output of the stress hormone adrenalin and lowers the flexibility of our heart rate, which leads to vascular calcification and overall to significant impairment of vascular functions.

What can you do? Psychologists recommend – for example when your neighbour's lawn mower is too loud – "to cognitively re-evaluate the noise source": When the neighbour is your friend, you will forgive him mowing the lawn more easily than when he is the "not so nice neighbour".

We have collected several links and downloads with further information on the connection between noise and health.

April 30th, 2014: International Noise Awareness Day
On April, 30th, the "International Noise Awareness Day" is celebrated. This year, the focus of the event is on the increasing daily noise we are exposed to in our environment. Also the "noise environment of children" will play a big role this year. You can read more about the event and the connected activities on www.tag-gegen-laerm.de. If you are planning activities of your own, you can announce them on the website under "Aktuelle Aktionen / Aktion anmelden".
Noise Awareness Day Website:

Interview: How noise impairs mental health and what you can do
Noise affects our mental health. But why are some people more sensitive to noise than others? The psychologist Jürgen Hellbrück explains on Spiegel.de, how noise affects our mind and what you can do to feel less disturbed by noise: "We are mor sensitive to noise when it interrupts our activities – especially when we are under stress. The cause of the noise is also important: If a neighbour is your friend, you will forgive him more easily for mowing the lawn than the "not so nice neighbour". Therefore you should try to "re-evaluate" the source of the noise.
Read the interview:

Software-Download: Simulate acoustics of office rooms
A normal day in the office is not very quiet: colleagues talk, the phones ring, and the copier is rattling out paper. But noise is disturbing your work and puts you under stress. Therefore, noise reduction must be taken seriously when planning an office. The right software for this is called "Auralisation of Office Rooms" by the Federal Agency for Industrial Health and Safety (BAuA) and the "Broadcast Technology Institute" (IRT). It demonstrates the room acoustics in the planned office. The software is ideal for architects, construction engineers, building owners, planners and operators of office rooms. It contains sound examples and helps you to design office rooms and workspaces with much better room acoustics.
Read more:
Download software:

Software-Download: Software to choose the right ear plugs
In February 2014, the Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the German Social Accident Insurance (IFA) has published the new version 9.0.1 of a software which helps you choose the right ear plug. The new version has more ear plugs in its database as well as new choice options. On the basis of the noise level and the general situation at the workplace, the software recommends suitable ear plugs, also taking into account the requirements of the "Noise and Vibration Health & Safety Regulation". The software also offers more filtering options (lowest limit value, maximum exposition value, and qualified use). The results can be sorted according to type, labelling or manufacturer.
Download (EXE-Datei, 8,9 MB, self-extracting):

Download: Noise Stress at the Workplace
The division "Wood and Metal" of the Employers Insurance Association Wood and Metal (BGHM) has published the 8-page brochure "Noise Stress at the Workplace" as PDF-Download. This brochure FB HM-018 gives safety specialists (SIFAs), occupational physicians, and supervisors of the Employers Insurances detailed information about noise induced stress which do not affect the inner ear ("extra-aural noise effects"). Topics of the brochure are for example "assessment of noise concerning extra-aural effects", "effects of noise on productivity", and "preventive measures".
PDF Download:

Download: Aircraft Noise and Air Routes – More Transparency and Public Participation
The German Council of Environmental Advisors (SRU) asserts massive deficits in the planning and permissions for airports and air routes. In handing their expertise "Reducing Flight Noise – We need reforms for planning airports and air routes" to the German Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks, the SRU demands more rights for public participation. Air traffic and aircraft noise are privileged by the current law in a way which is not contemporary any more. The increasing air traffic and its noise bear massive risks for human health and affect the quality of life as well as nature in the concerned regions. You can download the expertise in a short version and long version.
Short version:
Long version:

Press Release: Night-Flight Noise can induce Vascular Damage
According to a study of the "Medical Clinic and Polyclinic of the University Mainz", flight noise can lead to vascular issues, elevated stress hormone level, and impaired sleep quality with drastic effects on the cardiovascular system. Prof. Dr. Thomas Münzel, head of the study, says that this is a break-through in the field of flight noise research: "Our study shows exactly, how and which vascular damages arise from which noise levels." The scientists found that night-flight noise raises the level of the stress hormone adrenalin and significantly impairs the vascular functions. "Remarkably, the noise-induced vascular damages can be corrected with vitamin C" says Prof. Münzel. The study was published in the European Heart Journal.
More information:

Download Study: "Everyday Noise" influences Heart Rate Variability
Not only high noise levels are dangerous, also our daily, "normal" soundscape bears health risks, say scientists around Ute Kraus (work group 'Environmental Risks') and Dr. Alexandra Schneider (Institute for Epidemiology II et the Helmholtz Centre Munich). In their study with 110 participants, noise level and heart rates were recorded. Depending on the noise level (above or below 65 dB), they divided the participants into two groups and analysed the heart rate variability (HRV) in each group. The HRV describes the die adaptability of the vascular system to instantaneous requirements – where a low variability is a risk factor. The results of the study show that, when the noise level went up by 5 dB, the HRVs were reduced in the "low noise" group as well as in the "loud" group. The results were published in the renowned journal 'Environmental Health Perspectives'.
PDF Download:

Download Press Release: Air pollution and noise account for higher heart risk
Continuing exposure to fine dust, nightly traffic noise, and night-flight noise could increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases by inducing atherosclerosis resp. impair vascular functions. These are the results of two studies which were presented in April 2013 at the 79. annual congress of the German Cardiac Society (DGK) in Mannheim. In the "RECALL" study, the researchers found out that continuing exposure to fine dust and night-traffic noise independently contribute to an increased calcification of the aorta and thus to atherosclerosis. Researchers of the University of Mainz and the Pennsylvania School of Medicine found similar results about air-traffic noise: When the test persons were exposed to flight noise for 60 times per night, their vascular functions were reduced, and their blood pressure and und adrenalin level rose significantly.
Download Press Release

Online-Software: Calculate noise protection easily and quickly
Airplanes, cars or music in the neighbourhood – there are many kinds of noise. So before you rent or buy an apartment or a house, you should find out if your new home has noise protection. The German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU) supported the "Technische Universität Braunschweig" in developing a software which generates a "noise protection passport". On the website www.schallschutzausweis.de, house owners and potential leasers can access the user-friendly online program to print out their individual noise protection passport for free. A database calculates the input data scientifically. "The more users participate, the more up-to-date the database will be concerning the 'sonic quality' of the houses in Germany", says Sabine Langer (Institute for Applied Mechanics).
Online software: