Health risks related to noise

Projects at the Unit of Environmental Epidemiology, Institute of Environmental Medicine (IMM)

Health effects of noise exposure in children, adolescents and young adults

A significant part of the population is exposed to noise from traffic and exposure increases, partly due to increasing urbanization and traffic growth. In recent years, several studies have demonstrated serious health effects of long-term noise exposure in adults, but the evidence is limited regarding children, adolescents and young adults. In this project, we study relations between exposure to traffic noise and blood pressure, stress hormones, allergies as well as obesity in a birth cohort followed until 24 years of age. It is based on the BAMSE cohort where more than 4,000 children in Stockholm have been followed from birth with repeated surveys and clinical investigations, including blood and saliva sampling. Individual exposure to noise from road and railway traffic as well as aircraft at homes, schools and workplaces is assessed based on a validated methodology, and additional information about sound exposure from other sources, including music listening, is collected via questionnaire. Occupational noise exposure is estimated from a job-exposure matrix. The available information on other risk factors such as socio-economic conditions and air pollution exposure is extensive, allowing precise control of confounding and analyses of interactions. Our study offers unique opportunities to assess how noise exposure early in life can lead to long-term adverse health consequences.


  • Swedish Research Council

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Olena Gruzieva

Assistant professor

Selected publications       

Wallas AE et al. Noise exposure and childhood asthma up to adolescence. Environ Res. 2020;185:109404.

Enoksson Wallas A et al. Traffic noise and other determinants of blood pressure in adolescence. Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2019;222(5):824-830.

Wallas A et al. Traffic noise exposure in relation to adverse birth outcomes and body mass between birth and adolescence. Environ Res. 2019;169:362-367.

Wallas A et al. Road traffic noise and determinants of saliva cortisol levels among adolescents. Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2018;221(2):276-282.   


Health effects of noise from different traffic sources in relation to cardiovascular and metabolic diseases

Large parts of the population are exposed to noise from traffic, particularly in urban areas. Long-term exposure to noise may cause severe health effects, such as cardiovascular and/or metabolic diseases. In this project we aim to strengthen the risk assessment using data from adult cohorts based in Stockholm county as well as in other parts of Sweden and the Nordic countries. Individual long-term exposure to noise from different sources is estimated for the cohort members using a model with high spatial resolution. Exposure-response relationships are assessed for several adverse health outcomes, including hypertension, ischemic heart disease, stroke, overweight and type 2 diabetes. The project includes broad national and international collaboration, primarily with other Nordic countries. The exposure-response functions will be combined with detailed data on population exposures to calculate the number of cases attributable to noise exposure. In addition, interactions between air pollution and noise are evaluated for the cardiovascular and metabolic outcomes. It is expected that the results will provide important guidance for prioritization of preventive measures as well as for health sustainable urban development.


  • Swedish Research Council
  • Nordic Council

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Selected publications

Pyko A et al. Long-term transportation noise exposure and incidence of ischaemic heart disease and stroke: a cohort study. Occup Environ Med. 2019;76(4):201-207. 

Pyko A et al. Long-Term Exposure to Transportation Noise in Relation to Development of Obesity—a Cohort Study. Environ Health Perspect. 2017;125(11):117005.

Pyko A et al. Exposure to traffic noise and markers of obesity. Occup Environ Med. 2015;72(8):594-601.

Eriksson C et al. Long-term aircraft noise exposure and body mass index, waist circumference, and type 2 diabetes: a prospective study. Environ Health Perspect. 2014 Jul;122(7):687-94.

Selander J et al. Joint effects of job strain and road-traffic and occupational noise on myocardial infarction. Scand J Work Environ Health. 2013;39(2):195-203.


Environmental factors and cardiovascular disease in a cohort of Swedish women – An exposome approach

Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) remain the leading cause of death. Typically, CVDs are multifactorial and largely preventable. Risk factors primarily include lifestyle and behavioral factors, but environmental and occupational factors, such as air pollution and noise, may also contribute to an increased risk. On the other hand, urban residential greenness has been suggested as a preventive factor.

Previous research on causes of CVD often focuses on single risk factors and rarely considers a more complex exposure panorama. This project aims to investigate how air pollution, traffic noise and greenness contribute to the development of CVDs, and to study interaction with lifestyle, occupational exposure and socioeconomic determinants.

The project builds on prospective population-based data from 20 407 women (born 1914-48) from the Swedish Mammography Cohort (SMC).  In 1997, these women took part in a questionnaire survey, contributing information on lifestyle and central background variables. Exposure to urban environmental factors is based on residential address history and occupational exposure is assessed from on register-based occupational codes which are linked to job-exposure matrices. In addition, socioeconomic status has been gathered from Statistics Sweden. Information on date of diagnoses of IHD and stroke and death from the Patient Register and Cause of Death Register has been obtained for all participants throughout 2017.

The project will contribute to an increased understanding of the causes of CVD among women and can serve as a basis for preventive actions.


  • The Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare (FORTE)

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Health effects in relation to changes in aircraft noise exposure in the City of Stockholm spring 2020

Traffic noise is a common environmental exposure which may give rise to several negative effects on health and wellbeing. Approximately 3 % of the inhabitants in Stockholm County are very or extremely annoyed by aircraft noise. However, in areas in the vicinity of Stockholm Bromma airport, the percentage is even higher (approximately 10 %). Furthermore, in comparison to road traffic and railway noise, aircraft noise causes the highest proportion of annoyed persons at any given exposure level.

According to Swedish regulations from 2015, Bromma airport is exempted from the guidelines concerning number of overflights during day-time with maximum noise levels of 70 dB LAmax; meaning there is no limit to the number of overflights exceeding this guideline value. However, no previous study has investigated the consequences on public health following this regulation.

 During the peak of the Corona-virus pandemic, March-June 2020, the aircraft traffic to Bromma airport was almost completely shut down (minus 98 percent compared to corresponding traffic volumes in 2019). In this study, we aim to investigate how the drastic change in aircraft noise exposure around Bromma airport have influenced the health and wellbeing of residents of Stockholm.

A random selected sample of 10 000 inhabitants (18-85 years) living close to Bromma airport will receive a web based questionnaire, including questions on their residence, general health, noise annoyance, disturbance of activities (including e.g. communication, relaxation and insomnia), and stress symptoms. To capture the change in people’s response to the aircraft noise, the questions will relate to the situation both before and during the pandemic. Furthermore, after returning to a more normal air traffic situation, a second questionnaire will be sent out with the aim to capture responses to the increase in noise levels.

This project will contribute to a better understanding of how aircraft noise influences daily life, health and wellbeing of inhabitants of the City of Stockholm.

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