A study of riders' noise exposure on Bay Area Rapid Transit trains

J Urban Health. 2011 Feb;88(1):1-13. doi: 10.1007/s11524-010-9501-1.

Abstract

Excessive noise exposure may present a hazard to hearing, cardiovascular, and psychosomatic health. Mass transit systems, such as the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system, are potential sources of excessive noise. The purpose of this study was to characterize transit noise and riders' exposure to noise on the BART system using three dosimetry metrics. We made 268 dosimetry measurements on a convenience sample of 51 line segments. Dosimetry measures were modeled using linear and nonlinear multiple regression as functions of average velocity, tunnel enclosure, flooring, and wet weather conditions and presented visually on a map of the BART system. This study provides evidence of levels of hazardous levels of noise exposure in all three dosimetry metrics. L(eq) and L(max) measures indicate exposures well above ranges associated with increased cardiovascular and psychosomatic health risks in the published literature. L(peak) indicate acute exposures hazardous to adult hearing on about 1% of line segment rides and acute exposures hazardous to child hearing on about 2% of such rides. The noise to which passengers are exposed may be due to train-specific conditions (velocity and flooring), but also to rail conditions (velocity and tunnels). These findings may point at possible remediation (revised speed limits on longer segments and those segments enclosed by tunnels). The findings also suggest that specific rail segments could be improved for noise.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • California
  • Cardiovascular System
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / psychology
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Noise / adverse effects*
  • Railroads*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Stress, Psychological / complications*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Time Factors