1) Public Health related to General Air/Noise Pollution
2. Current Literature Review on Roadside Air and Noise Pollution and Public Health
by blacksmiths (Miller, 2004).
In 1661 The diarist John Evelyn published a treatise complaining about air pollution in London: “Fumifugium, or The Inconvenience of the Aer and the Smoak of London Dissipated.” Evelyn pointed to a correlation between the death rate indicated in London's 'bills of mortality' and the incidence of severe fogs (Vallero, 2006):
“...London was cloaked in such a cloud of sea-coal, as if there be a resemblance of hell upon earth, it is in this volcano in a foggy day: this pestilential smoke which corrodes the very iron, and spoils all the moveables, leaving a soot on all things that it lights; and so fatally seizing on the lungs of the inhabitants that cough and consumption spare no man”
Figure 1 Monet's painting "Houses of Parliament" captures the smog
By the turn of the twentieth century, London’s air had continued to deteriorate prompting Dr. H. A. Des Voeux of the London Coal Smoke Abatement Society to introduce the now familiar term for the combination of smoke and fog—smog.
The London air was so poor that it was captured in the popular art of the time—for example, Monet’s 1904 painting of the house of parliament (See Figure 1).
As the twentieth century progressed, an air inversion in the Belgian Meuse Valley caused the death of 60 people and thousands of additional sick persons in 1930. Back in London, England, the worst notorious case of killer fog occurred in 1952. Over the span of a week, more than 4,000 people perished.
The United States was far from immune from such incidents. In 1938, after repeated negative health episodes related to air pollution, sulfur dioxide and dust fall air sampling stations were set up under the hospices of the Federal Works Progress Administration.
Los Angeles, California, long known for its poor air quality suffered its first officially recorded SMOG attack in 1943. Over the course of the summer multiple episodes were recorded where visibility was only several blocks and people suffered from nausea and vomiting. These, and other subsequent events, led to the formation of the Los Angeles Pollution Control District in 1947.
The following year in 1948, across the United States in Donora, Pennsylvania, an air pollution episode was responsible for the death of 20 people and numerous animals. Half of the town's 12,000 residents become ill due to uncontrolled emissions from industrial facilities. During the same year of London’s killer smog, a Dutch immigrant who was a professor at CalTech, Dr. Arie Haagen-Smit discovered the underlying causes of SMOG, a combination of nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons in the presence of ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
These types of events across the world led to controls of pollution from point sources (factories) and to the separation of land uses (through zoning or other mechanisms). Subsequent regulations (discussed in section 2c) begin to address air quality emissions related to mobile sources.
It is worth noting that although the initial response from the public health and urban planning communities was to separate land uses and have residential areas be located far away from pollution sources. However, as the US economy
entered post industrialization and a long stride of the unprecedented automobile oriented suburban expansion era, the urban planning field, through the smart growth and growth management movements that started in the 1970’s have been making active strides to once again combine land uses—assuming that they are the appropriate mix of land uses. The rationale for once again mixing uses is, among other reasons, that in dense, mixed-use areas people will be able to utilize non-motorized or active living forms of transportation, which promote health through the reduction of obesity.
However, from an air quality perspective, great caution should be exercised and analysis conducted to demonstrate that while people are using non-motorized transportation, they are not subjected to additional harmful pollution or are living in locations near heavily trafficked roads where the benefit of a dense, mixed-use environment is diminished by negative health impacts.
(2) Public Health related to General Noise Pollution
Historically, noise has been covered less frequently in comparison to other environmental concerns such as air or water pollution. However, there has been growing concern regarding noise in terms of public health, both in developing and developed countries.
According to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Regional Office for Europe (2011), noise has specific health effects such as cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment in children, sleep disturbance, tinnitus, and annoyance.
Moreover, noise causes many non-auditory health problems including interference in the ability to perform complex tasks, modification of social behavior, impairment of reading ability and long-term memory, increased blood pressure in children or cardiovascular disorders and strokes in adults, and sleep disturbance, interference with communication, and other harmful effects (Firdaus & Ahmad, 2010; Sorensen
et al., 2011; Stansfeld, 2003). Table 1 briefly shows the relationship between noise levels and their effects. Therefore, noise pollution should be considered not only an environmental nuisance but also a threat to public health.
Table 1 the Possible Effects of Traffic Noise Exposure on Human Health
Source: Burns 1973, Noise and Man. London: John Murray. Citied by Ingel et al., 2007, p.56
However, despite a rise in recent interest, existing Korean research on the impact of noise on public health does not reach that in Europe or America.
There are several governmental research initiatives regarding this research. Among them, Sun (2007), a senior researcher at the Korea Environment Institute (KEI, http://www.kei.re.kr), suggested a health impact assessment research for traffic noise on the basis of predicted results about the health impact of traffic noise.
The research focused on adverse health effects such as annoyance, sleep disturbance, and heart disease.
Next, the Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC, http://www.cdc.go.kr), under the Ministry of Healthand Welfare, is recently
Level (dB) Example Effect
20 Leaves thudding (?) Pleasant
30 Quiet rural areas Almost no effect on sleep 35 Quiet park Almost no effect on sleep 40 Quiet residential living room Lowered deep sleep
50 Quiet office Breathing, increased pulse rate 60 Normally speaking Sleep disorders start
70 Ring tones Disturbed TV or radio interference Noisy office Peripheral vascular contraction 80 Subway noise Hearing impairment begins 90 Noisy factory Symptoms of hearing loss begins 100 Drills, Alarms Poor effort, temporary hearing loss
approaching noise pollution in order to enhance the quality of life. The institution has a tendency to focus more on diseases and policies for disease prevention and treatment rather than impact factors such as environmental noise, traffic noise, or road vibration.
On the other hand, a group of researchers at the Seoul Metropolitan Government Research Institute of Public Health & Environment (http://health.seoul.go.kr),Seo, Han, Lee, Sung, and Shin (1988) conducted the research of noise levels of main arterials in Seoul neighborhoods. Since it was almost 25 years ago, it touched on the impact of noise on public health very briefly. Their survey measured 25 locations in September 1987. As a result, Leq was 72~80 dB(A) in the downtown area, and 68~80 dB(A) in the outer commercial area. Leq at most points were over 70 dB(A), the environmental criteria of traffic noise. There was wide variation 65~85 dB(A) at all points.
Table 2 the Impact of Noise on Human Health
Because noise is a subjective matter, the health impact of noise on individual may vary.
Source: National Noise Information System, www.noise.info.or.kr