Most studies published to date consider single noise sources and the reported noise metrics are not informative about the peaking characteristics of the source under investigation. Our study focuses on the association between cardiovascular mortality in Switzerland and the three major transportation noise sources-road, railway and aircraft traffic-along with a novel noise metric termed intermittency ratio (IR), expressing the percentage contribution of individual noise events to the total noise energy from all sources above background levels. We generated Swiss-wide exposure models for road, railway and aircraft noise for 2001. Noise from the most exposed façade was linked to geocodes at the residential floor height for each of the 4.41 million adult (>30 y) Swiss National Cohort participants. For the follow-up period 2000-2008, we investigated the association between all noise exposure variables [Lden(Road), Lden(Rail), Lden(Air), and IR at night] and various cardiovascular primary causes of death by multipollutant Cox regression models adjusted for potential confounders including NO2. The most consistent associations were seen for myocardial infarction: adjusted hazard ratios (HR) (95% CI) per 10 dB increase of exposure were 1.038 (1.019-1.058), 1.018 (1.004-1.031), and 1.026 (1.004-1.048) respectively for Lden(Road), Lden(Rail), and Lden(Air). In addition, total IR at night played a role: HRs for CVD were non-significant in the 1st, 2nd and 5th quintiles whereas they were 1.019 (1.002-1.037) and 1.021 (1.003-1.038) for the 3rd and 4th quintiles. Our study demonstrates the impact of all major transportation noise sources on cardiovascular diseases. Mid-range IR levels at night (i.e. between continuous and highly intermittent) are potentially more harmful than continuous noise levels of the same average level.
Keywords: Aircraft; Cardiovascular mortality; Exposure; Intermittency ratio; Lden; Noise; Railway; Road traffic.