Beyond the primary role of transportation systems to provide mobility, transportation noise can impact public health and equity in cities across Canada. Transportation noise (i.e., airplanes, highways, railways, and construction equipment) can be pervasive and constant, interfering with people’s quality of life. Federal and provincial governments aim to minimize the extent to which highways have a negative impact on the noise-sensitive areas near them.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and many Canadian provinces have deemed noise pollution a growing danger to the health and welfare of the population. Also, some studies have indicated that noise ranks second only to air pollution as the environmental exposure most harmful to public health. However, the impacts posed by transportation noise are often underestimated. In addition, health inequity related to transportation has been documented, where low-income and minority communities have a higher exposure to traffic-related noise pollution. Transportation noise can cause long-term effects, including hearing loss, sleep disturbance, and cardiovascular disease, as well as cognitive impairment, worsened behavior, and diminished quality of life for children.
This presentation aims to explain the relationship between land use and health/equity impacts from transportation noise, as well as how health and equity concerns need to be part of transportation planning and decision-making.