Saliva cortisol in relation to aircraft noise exposure: Pooled-analysis results from seven European countries

Clémence Baudin*, Marie Lefèvre, Jenny Selander, Wolfgang Babisch, Ennio Cadum, Marie Christine Carlier, Patricia Champelovier, Konstantina Dimakopoulou, Danny Huithuijs, Jacques Lambert, Bernard Laumon, Göran Pershagen, Töres Theorell, Venetia Velonaki, Anna Hansell, Anne Sophie Evrard

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Many studies have demonstrated adverse effects of exposure to aircraft noise on health. Possible biological pathways for these effects include hormonal disturbances. Few studies deal with aircraft noise effects on saliva cortisol in adults, and results are inconsistent. Objective: We aimed to assess the effects of aircraft noise exposure on saliva cortisol levels and its variation in people living near airports. Methods: This study focused on the 1300 residents included in the HYENA and DEBATS cross-sectional studies, with complete information on cortisol sampling. All the participants followed a similar procedure aiming to collect both a morning and an evening saliva cortisol samples. Socioeconomic and lifestyle information were obtained during a face-to-face interview. Outdoor aircraft noise exposure was estimated for each participant's home address. Associations between aircraft noise exposure and cortisol outcomes were investigated a priori for male and female separately, using linear regression models adjusted for relevant confounders. Different approaches were used to characterize cortisol levels, such as morning and evening cortisol concentrations and the absolute and relative variations between morning and evening levels. Results: Statistically significant increases of evening cortisol levels were shown in women with a 10-dB(A) increase in aircraft noise exposure in terms of LAeq, 16h (exp(β) = 1.08; CI95% = 1.00-1.16), Lden (exp(β) = 1.09; CI95% = 1.01-1.18), Lnight (exp(β) = 1.11; CI95% = 1.02-1.20). A statistically significant association was also found in women between a 10-dB(A) increase in terms of Lnight and the absolute variation per hour (exp(β) = 0.90; CI95% = 0.80-1.00). Statistically significant decreases in relative variation per hour were also evidenced in women, with stronger effects with the Lnight (exp(β) = 0.89; CI95% = 0.83-0.96) than with other noise indicators. The morning cortisol levels were unchanged whatever noise exposure indicator considered. There was no statistically significant association between aircraft noise exposure and cortisol outcomes in men. Conclusions: The results of the present study show statistically significant associations between aircraft noise exposure and evening cortisol levels and related flattening in the (absolute and relative) variations per hour in women. Further biological research is needed to deepen knowledge of the pathway between noise exposure and disturbed hormonal regulation, and specially the difference in effects between genders.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102
JournalEnvironmental Health: A Global Access Science Source
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 27 Nov 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The HYENA study was funded by a grant from the European Commission (Directorate General Research) in the Fifth Framework Programme, Quality of Life and Management of Living Resources, Key Action 4 - Environment and Health (grant QLRT-2001-02501). The DEBATS study was supported by funds from the French Ministry of Health, the French Ministry of the Environment, and the French Civil Aviation Authority. The authors would like to thank them for their kind assistance. The HYDE joint-research project was sustained by a grant from the European and International Affairs Department (DAEI) of IFSTTAR (French Institute of science and technology for transport, development and networks).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Author(s).


  • Aircraft noise exposure
  • Epidemiology
  • Saliva cortisol


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