Spatial and temporal associations of road traffic noise and air pollution in London: Implications for epidemiological studies

Daniela Fecht*, Anna L. Hansell, David Morley, David Dajnak, Danielle Vienneau, Sean Beevers, Mireille B. Toledano, Frank J. Kelly, H. Ross Anderson, John Gulliver

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Citations (Scopus)


Road traffic gives rise to noise and air pollution exposures, both of which are associated with adverse health effects especially for cardiovascular disease, but mechanisms may differ. Understanding the variability in correlations between these pollutants is essential to understand better their separate and joint effects on human health.We explored associations between modelled noise and air pollutants using different spatial units and area characteristics in London in 2003-2010. We modelled annual average exposures to road traffic noise (LAeq,24h, Lden, LAeq,16h, Lnight) for ~190,000 postcode centroids in London using the UK Calculation of Road Traffic Noise (CRTN) method. We used a dispersion model (KCLurban) to model nitrogen dioxide, nitrogen oxide, ozone, total and the traffic-only component of particulate matter ≤2.5μm and ≤10μm. We analysed noise and air pollution correlations at the postcode level (~50 people), postcodes stratified by London Boroughs (~240,000 people), neighbourhoods (Lower layer Super Output Areas) (~1600 people), 1km grid squares, air pollution tertiles, 50m, 100m and 200m in distance from major roads and by deprivation tertiles.Across all London postcodes, we observed overall moderate correlations between modelled noise and air pollution that were stable over time (Spearman's rho range: |0.34-0.55|). Correlations, however, varied considerably depending on the spatial unit: largest ranges were seen in neighbourhoods and 1. km grid squares (both Spearman's rho range: |0.01-0.87|) and was less for Boroughs (Spearman's rho range: |0.21-0.78|). There was little difference in correlations between exposure tertiles, distance from road or deprivation tertiles.Associations between noise and air pollution at the relevant geographical unit of analysis need to be carefully considered in any epidemiological analysis, in particular in complex urban areas. Low correlations near roads, however, suggest that independent effects of road noise and traffic-related air pollution can be reliably determined within London.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-242
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironment International
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by grant NE/100789X/1 from the Natural Environment Research Council UK (NERC) under the Environmental Exposure and Health Initiative. The work of the UK Small Area Health Statistics Unit is funded by Public Health England as part of the MRC-PHE Centre for Environment and Health, funded also by the UK Medical Research Council. The funders had no involvement in the study design, analysis and interpretation of data, writing of the article or the decision to submit the article for publication.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Ltd.


  • Air pollution
  • Correlation
  • Exposure assessment
  • London
  • Noise
  • Road traffic


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