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Original Article
Effects of aircraft noise exposure on saliva cortisol near airports in France
  1. Marie Lefèvre1,
  2. Marie-Christine Carlier2,
  3. Patricia Champelovier3,
  4. Jacques Lambert4,
  5. Bernard Laumon5,
  6. Anne-Sophie Evrard1
  1. 1 Univ Lyon, Université Claude Bernard Lyon1, IFSTTAR, UMRESTTE, UMR T_9405, Bron, France
  2. 2 Hospices Civils de Lyon GH Sud CBAPS Laboratoire de Biochimie, Pierre Bénite, France
  3. 3 IFSTTAR, Planning, Mobilities and Environment Department, Transport and Environment Laboratory (LTE), Bron, France
  4. 4 Currently retired, Villeurbanne, France
  5. 5 IFSTTAR, Department of Transport, Health and Safety, Bron, France
  1. Correspondence to Dr Anne-Sophie Evrard, Univ Lyon, Université Claude Bernard Lyon1, IFSTTAR, UMRESTTE, UMR T_9405, Bron 69675, France; anne-sophie.evrard{at}


Background Saliva cortisol is a possible marker of noise-induced stress and could then mediate the relation observed between exposure to aircraft or road traffic noise and cardiovascular diseases. However, the association between transportation noise and cortisol levels is still unclear. The objective of the study was to investigate the variability of saliva cortisol concentration as an indicator of disturbed hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis regulation in relation to long-term aircraft noise exposure.

Methods Saliva samples were taken when awakening and before going to bed for 1244 participants older than 18 years of age. Information about health, socioeconomic and lifestyle factors was also collected by means of a face-to-face questionnaire performed at home by an interviewer. Aircraft noise exposure was assessed for each participant’s home address using noise maps. Linear regression models were used to evaluate the effects of aircraft noise exposure on the morning and evening cortisol levels and on the daily variation of cortisol per hour.

Results This study suggests a modification of the cortisol circadian rhythm in relation to aircraft noise exposure. This exposure was associated with a smaller variation of cortisol levels over the day, with unchanged morning cortisol levels, but higher cortisol levels in the evening.

Conclusions These findings provide some support for a psychological stress induced by aircraft noise exposure, resulting in HPA dysregulation and a flattened cortisol rhythm, thus contributing to cardiovascular diseases.

  • Epidemiology
  • aircraft noise exposure
  • saliva cortisol
  • HPA dysregulation

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  • Contributors ASE and BL with JL and PC conceived and designed the study. ASE and ML conducted the study. JL interpreted the aircraft noise data and PC interpreted the annoyance data. MCC analysed saliva samples and determined cortisol levels. ML was involved in data extraction and preparation and carried out the statistical analyses, supervised by ASE and BL. The analyses were interpreted by ASE, ML and MCC with BL, JL and PC. ML and ASE drafted the initial report; all coauthors revised the report and approved the final version. ASE is responsible for the overall content as the guarantor of this paper.

  • Funding The present study was supported by funds from the French Ministry of Health, the French Ministry of Environment, and the French Civil Aviation Authority. We would like to thank them for their kind assistance.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval The French Advisory Committee for Data Processing in Health Research and the French National Commission for Data Protection and the Liberties.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.