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Road Traffic, Location of Rooms and Hypertension | OMICS International
ISSN: 2165-784X
Journal of Civil & Environmental Engineering
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Road Traffic, Location of Rooms and Hypertension

Wolfgang Babisch1*, Gabriele Wölke2, Joachim Heinrich2 and Wolfgang Straff1
1Department of Environmental Hygiene, Federal Environment Agency, Corrensplatz 1, 14195 Berlin, Germany
2Institute of Epidemiology I, Helmholtz Zentrum München, Ingolstädter Landstr. 1, 85764 Neuherberg, Germany
Corresponding Author : Wolfgang Babisch
Department of Environmental Hygiene
Federal Environment Agency, Corrensplatz 1
14195 Berlin, Germany
Tel: +49-30-8903-1370
Fax: +49-340-2104-1370
E-mail: [email protected]
Received October 24, 2014; Accepted November 27, 2014; Published December 03, 2014
Citation: Babisch W, Wölke G, Heinrich J, Straff W (2014) Road Traffic, Location of Rooms and Hypertension. J Civil Environ Eng 4:162. doi: 10.4172/2165-784X.1000162
Copyright: © 2014 Babisch W, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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Abstract

We compared the prevalence of hypertension in subjects that lived on main roads with those that lived in side streets. An odds ratio of 1.310 (95% CI = 1.052-1.631) was found for those who lived on the main roads. In this traffic-exposed subgroup, subjects that had the living and the bedroom facing the road an odds ratio of 1.736 (CI = 0.673-1.882) was found in comparison with those who had both rooms on the rear side of the house. In subjects that lived on side streets the location of the rooms was meaningless (OR = 1.102, CI = 0.648-1.874).

Keywords
Road traffic noise; Hypertension; Room orientation; Location of rooms; Quiet side
We have recently published the results of a cross-sectional study on the relationship between road traffic noise (noise indicator LDEN) and the prevalence of high blood pressure (hypertension) in Environmental Research [1]. The prevalence of hypertension was assessed in 1770 subjects that lived on 7 major trunk roads or adjacent parallel side streets that were completely shielded by terraced 3-4 storey apartment buildings. The study was carried out in a south-western district of the city of Berlin, Germany. Multiple logistic regression analyses were carried out to assess the relationship between the road traffic noise level and the prevalence of hypertension. Odds ratios were carculated as an indicator of the relative risk [2]. All study results are adjusted for age, gender, education, body mass index, physical activity at leisure, alcohol intake, family history of hypertension and occupants per room which showed an impact on the association between road traffic noise and hypertension in a multiple model where only potentially confounding covariates were considered. Background air pollution was very similar in all street areas according to the Berlin air pollution monitoring network. Major trunk roads and adjacent side streets were within a distance of approximately 200 m from one another. For more technical and methodological details we refer to the main paper. A significant 11% increase of the risk of hypertension per increment of 10 dB(A) of the road traffic noise level was found. When the analyses were stratified according to the location of the living and the bedroom, the location of rooms (front or rear side) turned out to be an effect modifier of the association between road noise and high blood pressure [3].
However, the analyses were only stratified by the location of rooms but not by to the type of road (major trunk road versus side street). This means that low noise conditions were either due to the shiedling of rooms from major trunk roads (rooms on the rear side) or due to the location of houses in side streets. However, the impact of shielding (sound attenuation) due to the location of rooms, particularly, on major trunk roads may be of importance for traffic and noise mitigation measures, architecture and urban planning. We therefore carried out additional analyses using the same statistical models as for the noise related analyses, including the same covariates for adjustment for potential confounding. However, we replaced the sound level by the type of road as an indicator of exposure (major trunk road or side street).
Firstly, we compared the prevalence of hypertension in subjects that lived on major trunk roads (n=753) with those that lived in side streets (n=1017, reference group) (Tables 1 and 2). An odds ratio of 1.310 (95% confidence interval CI=1.052-1.631, p=0.016) was found for those who lived on the major trunk roads, which means that those subjects had a 31% higher risk of hypertension compared with those who lived in side streets. Secondly, we stratified the association according to the location of the rooms (as assessed by questionnaire). Table 3 shows the relative prevalence of hypertension (odds ratios) of subjects with different living and bedroom orientations towards the roads. Subjects where both rooms were located on the rear side of the house (the least traffic exposed condition) are considered as a reference group (odds ratio=1). The table shows the results for both subgroups (subjects that lived on major trunk roads and in side streets). In the subgroup of subjects that lived on major roads an odds ratio of OR=1.736 (CI=1.005- 2.997, p=0.048) was found for the extreme comparison between both rooms on the front or the rear side of the house, which was significant. In subjects that lived on side streets the location of the rooms was irrelevant; an odds ratio of OR=1.102 (CI=0.648-1.874, p=0.721) was found. Looking at the intermediate groups (either the bedroom or the living room facing the street) revealed that the location of the living room had a stronger influence on the risk of high blood pressure than the location of the bedroom. The comparison of subjects that lived on major trunk roads but had both rooms on the rear side of the house (quiet side) with subjects that lived in side streets (regardless of which side) revealed no major difference in the prevalence of hypertension (OR=1.051, CI=0.689-1.601, p=0.818). Road traffic noise may be the most plausible reason for the observed effects because the shielding due to terraced buildings may be more effective for sound than for air pollutants that penetrate over the buildings.
Conclusions
In subjects that live on busy roads, the location of rooms - in particular, the orientation of the living room towards the road - is associated with a higher risk of hypertension. Subjects that are shielded from traffic exposures when having their rooms located on the rear side of the house are largely protected from adverse effects on the cardiovascular system. On busy roads sensitive rooms should be located on the rear side of the house.
Acknowledgements
The research was supported by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (Ufoplan research grant numbers FKZ 3708 61 200). We thank the Berlin Senate Department for Urban Development and the Environment for their support in accessing noise and air pollution data from official sources. The field work was carried out by the Helmholtz Zentrum München, Erfurt Office.
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