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Noise exposure and children’s blood pressure and heart rate: the RANCH project
  1. E van Kempen1,
  2. I Van Kamp1,
  3. P Fischer1,
  4. H Davies2,
  5. D Houthuijs1,
  6. R Stellato1,
  7. C Clark2,
  8. S Stansfeld2
  1. 1National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Centre for Environmental Health Research, Netherlands
  2. 2Barts and the London, Queen Mary’s School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 MrsE van Kempen
 National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Centre for Environmental Health Research, PO Box 1, 3720 BA Bilthoven, Netherlands; Elise.van.Kempen{at}


Background: Conclusions that can be drawn from earlier studies on noise and children’s blood pressure are limited due to inconsistent results, methodological problems, and the focus on school noise exposure.

Objectives: To investigate the effects of aircraft and road traffic noise exposure on children’s blood pressure and heart rate.

Methods: Participants were 1283 children (age 9–11 years) attending 62 primary schools around two European airports. Data were pooled and analysed using multilevel modelling. Adjustments were made for a range of socioeconomic and lifestyle factors.

Results: After pooling the data, aircraft noise exposure at school was related to a statistically non-significant increase in blood pressure and heart rate. Aircraft noise exposure at home was related to a statistically significant increase in blood pressure. Aircraft noise exposure during the night at home was positively and significantly associated with blood pressure. The findings differed between the Dutch and British samples. Negative associations were found between road traffic noise exposure and blood pressure, which cannot be explained.

Conclusion: On the basis of this study and previous scientific literature, no unequivocal conclusions can be drawn about the relationship between community noise and children’s blood pressure.

  • ANEI, Australian Noise Exposure Index (this is a noise metric expressing the level of aircraft noise in Australia
  • as opposed to equivalent noise metrics (such as LAeq, 7–23hr) the ANEI not only takes into account the energy level of noise level events, but also the number of events and day/night loadings from social surveys in Australia)
  • dB(A), unit of A-weighted sound pressure level, where A-weighted means that the sound pressure levels in various frequency bands across the audible range have been weighted in accordance with differences in hearing sensitivity at different frequencies
  • df, degrees of freedom
  • LAeq, A-weighted average sound pressure level
  • LAeq, 7–23hr, the average continuous equivalent sound level within a certain area from 0700 to 2300 hours within a specified period
  • RANCH, Road traffic and Aircraft Noise exposure and children’s Cognition and Health: exposure-effect relationships and combined effects
  • aircraft noise
  • blood pressure
  • road traffic noise
  • heart rate

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  • Published Online First 25 May 2006

  • Funding: the RANCH study was funded by the European Community (QLRT-2000-00197) in the fifth framework programme under Key Action 1999:/C 361/06 “Quality of life and management of living resources”. In the United Kingdom, co-funding was provided by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. In the Netherlands, co-funding was provided by the Dutch Ministry of Spatial Planning, Housing and the Environment, the Dutch Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sports, and the Dutch Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management.

  • Competing interests: none