Using a change in percentage highly annoyed with noise as a potential health effect measure for projects under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act
Health Canada is in the process of developing a document, Guidance for Environmental Assessment: Health Impacts of Noise (Guidance) on how to assess noise impacts in environmental assessments. The guidance document is needed to assist Health Canada in providing consistent expert advice on the health effects of project noise, when requested under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA). Differences exist between various noise mitigation criteria used in environmental assessments from across Canada, Therefore, the first step for Health Canada to provide consistent advice is to establish quantitative criteria for adverse health effects as a function of project-related long-term changes in noise. The criteria should be based on scientific research that has demonstrated a reasonable cause-effect association between an adverse impact on public health and well-being and community noise exposure. This paper shows that: (i) there is a substantial amount of community-based social and socio-acoustic research and (ii) precedent from U.S., European and International standard and policy setting bodies, to justify the use of a change in percentage highly annoyed with noise (%HAn) as one of the health endpoints for an environmental assessment. Furthermore, viewing high noise annoyance as an adverse health effect is consistent with Health Canada’s definition of “health”. This paper also shows that %HAn is preferable as a long term endpoint than the use of noise complaints, To add to this, there have been recent nation-wide Canadian social surveys on high noise annoyance that further support its use as an adverse health effect to be considered in Canadian environmental assessments.
Canadian Acoustics, 2008; 36 (2): 13-28.
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