Urban green spaces' effectiveness as a psychological buffer for the negative health impact of noise pollution: a systematic review

Noise Health. May-Jun 2014;16(70):157-65. doi: 10.4103/1463-1741.134916.


Noise pollution is one of the four major pollutions in the world. Little evidence exists about the actual preventive benefits of psychological noise attenuation by urban green spaces, especially from the perspective of environmental medicine and, to the best of our knowledge, there is not a systematic analysis on this topic. The aim of this review was to systematically evaluate whether there is conclusive scientific evidence for the effectiveness of urban green spaces as a psychological buffer for the negative impact of noise pollution on human health and to promote an evidence-based approach toward this still growing environmental hazard. MEDLINE and EMBASE databases were searched for experimental and epidemiological studies published before June 04, 2013 in English and Spanish. Data was independently extracted in two step process by the authors. Due to the heterogeneity of the included studies qualitative assessment was performed. We found moderate evidence that the presence of vegetation can generally reduce the negative perception of noise (supported with an electroencephalogram test in one of the experimental studies; consistent with the data from two epidemiological studies; one experiment found no effect and one was inconclusive about the positive effect). This review fills a gap in the literature and could help researchers further clarify the proper implementation of urban green spaces as a psychological buffer in areas with population exposed to chronic noise pollution.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Auditory Perception*
  • Environment*
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Noise / adverse effects*
  • Plants*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Urban Health*