Road-traffic noise: Annoyance, risk perception, and noise sensitivity in the finnish adult population

Enembe Oku Okokon, Anu W. Turunen, Sari Ung-Lanki, Anna Kaisa Vartiainen, Pekka Tiittanen, Timo Lanki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Citations (Scopus)


Exposure to road-traffic noise commonly engenders annoyance, the extent of which is determined by factors not fully understood. Our aim was to estimate the prevalence and determinants of road-traffic noise annoyance and noise sensitivity in the Finnish adult population, while comparing the perceptions of road-traffic noise to exhausts as environmental health problems. Using a questionnaire that yielded responses from 1112 randomly selected adult Finnish respondents, we estimated road-traffic noise- and exhausts-related perceived exposures, health-risk perceptions, and self-reported annoyance on five-point scales, while noise sensitivity estimates were based on four questions. Determinants of noise annoyance and sensitivity were investigated using multivariate binary logistic regression and linear regression models, respectively. High or extreme noise annoyance was reported by 17% of respondents. Noise sensitivity scores approximated a Gaussian distribution. Road-traffic noise and exhausts were, respectively, considered high or extreme population-health risks by 22% and 27% of respondents. Knowledge of health risks from traffic noise, OR: 2.04 (1.09–3.82) and noise sensitivity, OR: 1.07 (1.00–1.14) were positively associated with annoyance. Knowledge of health risks (p < 0.045) and positive environmental attitudes (p < 000) were associated with higher noise sensitivity. Age and sex were associated with annoyance and sensitivity only in bivariate models. A considerable proportion of Finnish adults are highly annoyed by road-traffic noise, and perceive it to be a significant health risk, almost comparable to traffic exhausts. There is no distinct noise-sensitive population subgroup. Knowledge of health risks of road-traffic noise, and attitudinal variables are associated with noise annoyance and sensitivity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5712-5734
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2015
Externally publishedYes


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