The NORAH Study

 

What impact does traffic noise have on the quality of life, health and development of children? These were the three main questions at the centre of the NORAH Study. NORAH (Noise-Related Annoyance, Cognition, and Health) is the most extensive study on the subject of noise impact so far. 
 

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Press releases

ICANA: NORAH study at the centre of the 3rd International Conference on Active Noise Abatement

The NORAH study published at the end of October is the main focus of ICANA Health 2015. Over 150 national and international experts and interested professionals are attending the conference at Frankfurt Main airport.

Frankfurt, 13 November, 2015. The main topic of this year’s ICANA is the NORAH study. NORAH authors and Scientific Advisory Board on Quality Assurance present the methods and findings of the study to an audience of specialists. Afterwards, external consultants from both Germany and abroad give their opinions and report on their own research projects.

Scientists’ opinions

Noise researchers worldwide are taking note of NORAH, because there is not currently a comparable study”, stated Prof. Rainer Guski, Head of the NORAH study. “Here at the ICANA we can now – after the public has been informed of the study – enter into a scientific debate too”. “What is so special about NORAH is the fact that an investigation was carried out on the impact of three different types of traffic noise: rail, road and aviation traffic”, explained Prof. Martin Röösli from the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, an associated institute of the University of Basel. He added: “NORAH attests that all three types of traffic noise increase cardiovascular risks. As the first major study of its kind, it shows a clear correlation between chronic noise pollution and depressions, which urgently requires further investigation”. Dr Elise van Kempen of the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) commented on the NORAH study on blood pressure. This was unable to prove the widespread notion that there is a link between chronic noise and blood pressure. “These findings are similar to those from research carried out to date”, van Kempen said, based on the findings of comparable studies. Dr Georg Thomann from the Agency for Nature and the Environment in the canton of Graubünden, Switzerland, remarked: “A major challenge facing the NORAH study was how to calculate the abundance of acoustic data, which it managed to overcome.”

Panel debate on noise research

A highlight of today, the second day of the conference is “Dialogue: Noise Research 2015”, a panel debate featuring Prof. Rainer Guski (Ruhr University Bochum), Prof Hajo Zeeb (Bremen Institute for Prevention Research and  Social Medicine), Prof. Peter Lercher (University of Innsbruck) and Prof. Eberhard Greiser (University of Bremen).

ICANA 2016 Active Noise Abatement

This is now the third year of ICANA. The international conference attracts renowned experts to Frankfurt on every occasion.  The next conference will take place in 2016 and focus on Active Noise Abatement. Günter Lanz, Managing Director of Gemeinnützige Umwelthaus GmbH and host of ICANA, said: “The first ICANA was not preceded by a number, and now it’s taking place for the third time. This is evidence that ICANA has become well established in its sphere. It promotes a dialogue among professionals in the industry on all topics concerning air noise, from active noise abatement to possible effects on health. Indeed, we look forward to continuing this series.”

Follow ICANA live on the Internet via livestream:
http://icana.umwelthaus.org

Photo material
For current press photos from ICANA, please visit www.laermstudie.de/presse

The NORAH study

The noise impact study NORAH (Noise-Related Annoyance, Cognition and Health) is the most comprehensive study ever conducted of the effects of aviation, rail and road traffic noise on the health and quality of life of the population. The NORAH research consortium is made up of nine prominent research and technology institutions in the fields of medicine, psychology, social science, acoustics and physics. The investigations were carried out mainly in the Rhine-Main Region, and partially also in the regions around the airports Berlin -Brandenburg, Cologne/Bonn and Stuttgart. The client for the NORAH Study is the Umwelt- und Nachbarschaftshaus (UNH) in Kelsterbach, a subsidiary of the Land of Hessen. Alongside the land of Hessen, communities, Fraport, airlines and the UNH were also involved in the financing.


NORAH press office for the Umwelthaus
Julia Seimel
Mann beißt Hund – Agentur für Kommunikation GmbH
Tel.: +49 (0) 40-89 06 96-14
E-Mail: js[at]mann-beisst-hund.de
www.mann-beisst-hund.de

Airport and Region Forum 
Johanna Schewe
Tel.: +49 (0) 61 07-98 86 8-11
E-Mail: johanna.schewe[at]umwelthaus.org
www.forum-flughafen-region.de

NORAH noise impact study concluded

The most comprehensive study so far on the health effects of traffic noise shows differentiated results. On the one hand, it was established that all three types of traffic noise (aviation, road and rail) partially effect the physical and mental quality of life of the persons concerned as well as their health. On the other hand, the overall health risks of traffic noise are lower than assumed in advance in the public sphere.  Effects on blood pressure cannot be verified. Traffic noise can, however, increase the risk of depression and congestive heart failure. Annoyance due to aviation noise has risen sharply at all the investigated airports in recent years. Since the introduction of the core rest period (night-time flying curfew) at Frankfurt Airport, residents have been sleeping better.

Frankfurt, 29 October, 2015. The authors of the NORAH study presented the results of the most comprehensive study so far on the effects of traffic noise to the public today in Frankfurt. For almost five years now, eight scientific institutions and an engineering office have been researching the effects of aviation, road and rail noise on humans. The investigations were carried out at Frankfurt Airport and in the Rhine-Main region as well as at the comparison locations of Cologne/Bonn, Berlin and Stuttgart. Only a subgroup showed a statistically clear correlation between heart attacks and aviation noise, but there was no clear trend for strokes. It was possible, however, to find clear evidence for a connection between constant traffic noise and the occurrence of depression and congestive heart failure. This connection applies to all three investigated traffic types, i.e. road, rail and aviation. For depression, aviation noise showed the highest effect, for congestive heart failure it was rail noise. The scientists were also unable to verify an increase in blood pressure due to constant aviation noise. This result contradicts suggestions from some previous studies. The high quality of the study, however, reinforces the result: it is based on far more blood pressure measurements and on more precise acoustic and calculation data than any previous study. Overall, the health risks from aviation noise identified by NORAH are lower than assumed up to now.

Annoyance due to aviation noise increased
In general, the residents around Frankfurt Airport felt more annoyed by aviation noise at the same continuous sound level than in earlier studies. Even at the investigated comparison airports, the annoyance was considerably above the EU standard graphs used, for example, for the EU environmental noise directive. Compared with the airports Cologne/Bonn and Stuttgart, people in Frankfurt exposed to the same noise level feel greater annoyance. The annoyance increased initially after the opening of the North-West runway in 2011, and fell slightly in 2013. The scientists refer to a "change effect" in connection with the expansion of the airport. They were also able to verify that aviation noise bothers people more than road or rail noise. A differentiated picture also results from the effects on sleep: The NORAH Sleep Study shows that residents around the airport have been sleeping better since the introduction of the core rest period (curfew on night-time flying) in 2011. Nonetheless, they often feel more tired in the morning – at the same level of noise. Persons who have a critical attitude towards aviation in general sleep less well than those with a positive attitude towards aviation.

Comprehensive quality assurance
"NORAH is a milestone in noise impact research. Many of the connections have never before been investigated in the depth and breadth realized here," says Johann-Dietrich Wörner, member of the board of the Frankfurt Airport and Region Forum (ARF). All of the results are backed up by the unanimous approval of a Scientific Advisory Board for Quality Assurance, who constantly accompanied and monitored the study. Wörner continues: "First of all, I find it reassuring that the serious impacts on health feared by many due to air traffic in the Rhine-Main Region could not be verified. The decisive factor is not only the direct health effect but also the impairment of the quality of life and the high degree of annoyance that was detected in the study. This – the study clearly shows that - involves not only aviation noise. Traffic noise as a whole represents a relevant issue, so that appropriate attention must be paid to noise protection as for the street and rail."

Careful handling of results
Overall, the study creates clarity in many areas, but also highlights the need for further research. This applies, for example, to the still largely fragmentary acoustic database in the area of road and rail noise. The board of the ARF appeals to all interested politicians and citizens, aviation critics and defenders, to treat the highly complex results with care, and to avoid extreme interpretations and knee-jerk conclusions. Wörner: "The consortium has presented more than 2,500 pages of results reports. Now we have to fundamentally analyze which conclusions we can and must draw from this trove of data."


Overview of sub-studies

The NORAH Consortium today presents the results of the following NORAH sub-studies:
•    Quality of Life Study
•    Study on Health Risks
•    Sleep Study
•    Blood Pressure Study
The NORAH Child Study was already published last year.

The Board of the ARF
The Board of the ARF has three members:
Ms. Anke Giesen, Executive Board Member of Fraport
Mr. Oliver Quilling, District Administrator of Offenbach
Prof. Dr. eng. Johann-Dietrich Wörner, Director General of the ESA

The NORAH study
The noise impact study NORAH (Noise-Related Annoyance, Cognition and Health) is the most comprehensive study ever conducted of the effects of aviation, rail and road traffic noise on the health and quality of life of the population. The NORAH research consortium is made up of nine prominent research and technology institutions in the fields of medicine, psychology, social science, acoustics and physics. The investigations were carried out mainly in the Rhine-Main Region, and partially also in the regions around the airports Berlin-Brandenburg, Cologne/Bonn and Stuttgart. The client for the NORAH Study is the Umwelt- und Nachbarschaftshaus (UNH) in Kelsterbach, a subsidiary of the Land of Hessen. Alongside the land of Hessen, communities, Fraport, airlines and the UNH were also involved in the financing.


If you would like to learn more about the NORAH Study, please visit the website www.laermstudie.de, call us or order by e-mail one or more of the brochures as a PDF

•    NORAH Knowledge 10: Sleep Study – Results
•    NORAH Knowledge 11: Blood Pressure Study - Results
•    NORAH Knowledge 12: Study on Health Risks - Results
•    NORAH Knowledge 13: Quality of Life Study – Results
•    NORAH Knowledge 14: NORAH Study – Overall results

Picture material
As of the afternoon of 29.10., you will find up-to-date photos of the press conference at www.laermstudie.de.

NORAH press office for the Umwelthaus
Julia Seimel
Mann beißt Hund – Agentur für Kommunikation GmbH
Tel.: +49 (0) 40-89 06 96-14
E-Mail: js[at]mann-beisst-hund.de
www.mann-beisst-hund.de

Airport and Region Forum 
Johanna Schewe
Tel.: +49 (0) 61 07-98 86 8-11
E-Mail: johanna.schewe[at]umwelthaus.org
www.forum-flughafen-region.de

Download press release (PDF, 161 KB)

 

 

NORAH Child Study concluded with clear results but raises new questions

Frankfurt, 4 November 2014. Children living in areas exposed to high levels of aviation noise learn to read more slowly than children living in quiet locations. This is the conclusion reached by the NORAH Child Study, whose results were presented today at a press conference at Frankfurt's Literaturhaus. The child study is the first part of the NORAH Study, which is examining the effects on health of aviation noise in the Rhine-Main Region by commission of the Ge-meinnützige Umwelthaus GmbH.

The study was reviewed by an advisory board of international scientific experts who certified its high scientific quality. 1,243 second-grade children at 29 schools in the Rhine-Main Region took part in the surveys and tests. In addition to this, 85 teachers and 1,185 parents answered the questions of the scientists from the Technical University of Kaiserslautern under the direction of Prof. Dr. Maria Klatte.

On the basis of the assessment of the Scientific Advisory Board (WBQ) the main results can be summarized as follows:

1.    With strict controls against other influencing factors not related to avia-tion noise, it can be established that there is a connection between aviation noise exposure and a reduced ability to read in children exposed when they are still in the reading skills acquisition phase. The study also shows that it is necessary to look at other influencing factors in order to understand the scale of the negative effect.  

2.    The research hypothesis that aviation noise has direct effects on the ex-amined precursor skills for reading (for example on phonological awareness or listening comprehension) was not confirmed. The results of the study on the re-ported quality of life and on the disruption of classes by aviation show a connec-tion between increasing exposure and a negative influence on these items. The effects on the quality of life, however, are quite low in general; quality of life was evaluated as high at all locations. The teachers unanimously described the dis-ruption of classes in the high sound level ranges as considerable.

3.    A higher number of medically diagnosed speech and linguistic disorders as well as a higher intake of prescribed medication at higher continuous sound levels were established; it was not possible, however to verify a difference in the ability to learn how to read compared with the non-exposed children.

4.    Longer-term effects – in any direction – were not registered by the study. It is therefore not possible to make statements in one or the other direction. The percentage of children who, according to information provided by the school, go on to secondary school is just as high in the primary schools with high aviation noise exposure as in the less exposed schools.

5.    In the opinion of the scientists, the study highlights the need for further research; the overall complexity of the issues involved makes it clear that there is no place for simplified, generalized and populist interpretations.


Statement of the Airport and Region Forum on the NORAH Child Study


The Airport and Region Forum agrees with the assessment of the WBQ and adds:

"At the end of 2010, the contract for the noise impact study NORAH was granted to a consortium made up of 10 established research institutions. The aim was to examine at the highest scientific level the impacts of traffic noise and, in particu-lar, aviation noise on human health, wellbeing and intellectual development of primary school children. In order to achieve this objective, an independent, ex-ternal and international scientific quality assurance board was installed to ensure continuous critical assessment of the research work and review the results at the end.

For us and the committees of the AFR, management board and steering board, it was important to withdraw from the proceedings once the work began and to leave the field to the scientists. The partial result now published, the Child Study, shows that the scientists were able to achieve results in this highly emotional area which in our opinion will stand up to the most rigorous standards. We therefore regard these results as an excellent basis for further work on the part of the AFR but also of politics and administration."


The NORAH Study
The noise impact study NORAH (Noise-Related Annoyance, Cognition, and Health) is one of the most extensive studies internationally on the effects of avia-tion, rail and road traffic noise on the health and quality of life of the popula-tion. Nine research and development institutions from the fields of medicine, psychology, social science, acoustics and physics have joined to form the NORAH research consortium. The investigations are carried out mainly in the Rhine-Main Region, but also in the regions around the airports Berlin-Brandenburg, Cologne-Bonn and Stuttgart.

The client for the NORAH Study is the Umwelt- und Nachbarschaftshaus GmbH in Kelsterbach, a subsidiary company of the Land of Hessen. Alongside the Land of Hessen, the communities, Fraport, aviation companies and the UNH are in-volved in the financing.

If you would like to know more about the NORAH Child Study, visit the website www.laermstudie.de, call us or order by e-mail one or more of the following brochures as a PDF:

  • NORAH Knowledge 1: Child Study – task and method
  • NORAH Knowledge 2: Sound and noise – the basic principles of acoustics
  • NORAH Knowledge 3: NORAH noise impact study – an overview
  • NORAH Knowledge 4: Child Study – results



NORAH press office for the Umwelthaus

Julia Seimel
Mann beißt Hund – Agentur für Kommunikation GmbH
Tel.: +49 (0) 40-89 06 96-14
E-Mail: js[at]mann-beisst-hund.de
www.mann-beisst-hund.de

Gemeinnützige Umwelthaus GmbH
Johanna Schewe
Tel.: +49 (0) 61 07-98 86 8-11
E-Mail: johanna.schewe[at]umwelthaus.org
www.umwelthaus.org

Download press release (PDF, 149 KB)

 

 

 

 

 

NORAH Knowledge

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norah[at]umwelthaus.org