• T. Veber University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia
  • T. Tamm University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia
  • M. Ründva Kajaja Acoustics OÜ, Tallinn, Estonia
  • H. Kriit Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm
  • A. Pyko Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm
  • H. Orru University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia; Umea University, Umea, Sweden


transportation noise, traffic noise, health impact assessment, disability adjusted life years, external costs


Background: As a result of urbanization, increasing number of people are exposed to transportation noise. There is growing epidemiological evidence that transportation noise has negative impacts on human health, well-being and work ability.

Aim: The aim of the current study was to quantify the health effects of road, rail and air transportation noise in Tallinn and Tartu.

Methods:  Recently, European Commission has been developing a mutual methodology for assessing health impacts of transportation noise in EU. This new methodology is applied in the current assessment. We used noise exposure data from strategic noise mapping, and baseline morbidity data from Health Statistics and Health Research Database of National Institute for Health Development.

Results: It appeared that the proportion of highly annoyed residents due to road traffic noise is expected to be 11.6% in Tallinn, and 9.2% in Tartu and around 2.4% of residents in both cities are having high sleep disturbance. The number of attributable cases of ischemic heart disease (IHD) induced by road traffic noise is estimated to be 122.6 (95% CI 16.5–214.5) cases in Tallinn and 21.5 (2.9–37.7) cases in Tartu. Altogether transportation noise is estimated to cause 1807 disability adjusted life years (DALY) in Tallinn and 370 DALY in Tartu. The external costs of ill-health are expected to be 152.4 million € annually what is 0.7% of Estonian Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Railway and aircraft noise health effects are relatively small in both cities, the proportion of annoyed and sleep disturbed people is below 1%.

Conclusion(s): Transportation noise, and in particular road traffic noise, is an important environmental risk factor which leads to considerable loss of healthy life years and also cause large external costs to society. Currently applied European Commission health impact assessment methodology is rather conservative as it includes only IHD morbidity, annoyance and sleep disturbance.  Real effects could be higher and the novel studies show effects also on IHD mortality, stroke and diabetes.

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