Background: The impact of different transportation noise sources and noise environments on arterial stiffness remains unknown.
Objectives: We evaluated the association between residential outdoor exposure to annual average road, railway, and aircraft noise levels, total noise intermittency (IR), and total number of noise events (NE) and brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity (baPWV) following a cross-sectional design.
Methods: We measured baPWV (meters/second) in 2,775 participants (49-81 y old) at the second follow-up (2010-2011) of the Swiss Cohort Study on Air Pollution and Lung and Heart Diseases in Adults (SAPALDIA). We assigned annual average road, railway, and aircraft noise levels (Ldensource), total day- and nighttime NEtime and IRtime (percent fluctuation=0%, none or constant noise; percent fluctuation=100%, high fluctuation) at the most exposed façade using 2011 Swiss noise models. We applied multivariable linear mixed regression models to analyze associations.
Results: Medians [interquartile ranges (IQRs)] were baPWV=13.4 (3.1) m/s; Ldenair (57.6% exposed)=32.8 (8.0) dB; Ldenrail (44.6% exposed)=30.0 (8.1) dB; Ldenroad (99.7% exposed): 54.2 (10.6) dB; NEnight=123 (179); NEday=433 (870); IRnight=73% (27); and IRday=63.8% (40.3). We observed a 0.87% (95% CI: 0.31, 1.43%) increase in baPWV per IQR of Ldenrail, which was greater with IRnight>80% or with daytime sleepiness. We observed a nonsignificant positive association between Ldenroad and baPWV in urban areas and a negative tendency in rural areas. NEnight, but not NEday, was associated with baPWV. Associations were independent of the other noise sources and air pollution.
Conclusions: Long-term exposure to railway noise, particularly in an intermittent nighttime noise environment, and to nighttime noise events, mainly related to road noise, may affect arterial stiffness, a major determinant of cardiovascular disease. Ascertaining noise exposure characteristics beyond average noise levels may be relevant to better understand noise-related health effects. https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP1136.