APH 2009, 67, 52-61:

Noise nuisance and health inequalities in Belgium: a population study

V. Lorant, C. Schmit

Keywords: health inequalities, noise nuisance, socio-economic factors, subjective health, urban health

Context
Lower socioeconomic groups are more likely to live in contaminated environments. This may partly explain socioeconomic health inequalities.

Aims
Does noise nuisance contribute to socio-economic inequalities in subjective health?

Method
This research is based on the last Belgian census data carried out in 2001. We work on a 10% sample of the Belgian population. The data are processed through bivariate and multi-variate analyses. We model poor subjective health in relation to exposure to noise nuisance and several socio-economic variables.

Results
The risk of poor subjective health increases with noise nuisance and is higher in lower socio-economic groups. Noise nuisance does contribute to health inequalities, particularly regard-ing type of housing and activity. These relations are stronger in urban areas.

Conclusions
Noise nuisance affects the subjective health status and contributes to health inequalities, particularly in urban areas. This suggests that public policies, particularly those related to environmental planning, should be driven also by environmental equity considerations.