12th ICBEN Congress on Noise as a Public Health Problem

Keynote Lectures

The scientific program on all congress days starts with a keynote lecture, each given by a distinguished colleague. We have the pleasure to announce the following four keynote lectures:

Noise sensitivity, health and mortality - a review and new analyses

Monday, June 19,  9:30 h, Room C60

Stephen Stansfeld
Centre for Psychiatry, Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, UK
(Keynote given at the ICBEN 2017 Award of Excellence in Research on the Biological Effects of Noise ceremony)

This talk presents a review of noise sensitivity and health as well as new longitudinal analyses of road traffic noise, noise sensitivity and cardiovascular and mental health outcomes. Self-reported noise sensitivity is a moderator of the association of environmental noise and annoyance. There is less certainty over whether it also moderates the effects of environmental noise on health outcomes. It has been suggested that noise sensitivity may be an indicator of vulnerability to environmental stressors in general but the biological basis of this remains undetermined. However, there is evidence for heritability of noise sensitivity from twin studies. Analysis of follow up data from men in the Caerphilly Collaborative Heart Disease study demonstrates that high noise sensitivity has a protective effect on mortality risk and does moderate the effect of traffic noise exposure on psychological distress. High noise sensitivity is linked to trait anxiety but it is not clear whether they are the same construct. Understanding vulnerability to environmental stressors is important for developing resilience and preventing disease in the future.

[with coauthors Charlotte Clark, Mel Smuk, Wolfgang Babisch, and John Gallacher]


Hearing behind the limit: Measurement, perception and impact of infrasound and ultrasonic noise

Tuesday, June 20,  9:00 h, Room C60

Christian Koch
Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt Braunschweig, Germany

In our daily life many sources emit infrasound because of their function or unintended. On the other side of hearing frequency range airborne ultrasound is applied in many technical and medical processes and has also increasingly moved into daily life. There are numerous indicators that sound at these frequencies influence human beings and that sound at such frequencies can be perceived. However at present, the precise mechanisms of this perception are unknown and this lack in understanding is reflected by the unsatisfactory status of existing regulations and standards. The talk will try to briefly describe the current status of measurement capabilities, the knowledge about perception mechanisms, and the assessment of infrasound and airborne ultrasound. To contribute to the question whether these sounds can be of any risk for the hearing system the results of a study using audiological methods and neuroimaging are presented. It was implemented within an EU-funded international project in order to improve the objective rationale of the auditory perception of infrasound and airborne ultrasound in humans. 


Noise-induced hearing loss and its impact on quality of life

Wednesday, June 21,  9:00 h, Room C60

Stefan Launer
Senior VP Science & Technology, Sonova AG, Switzerland
Adjunct Professor University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

Hearing loss due to aging and noise impact is among the largest chronic health conditions in the world. The prevalence is 10-20% of the world population, strongly depending on age. Hearing loss has a very strong impact on the quality of life of people affected with hearing loss. Often times it can lead to strong changes in social life not only of the person suffering from hearing loss directly but also of the family members (“third-party disability”). The occurrence of hearing loss also often strongly correlates with the occurrence of other health conditions especially in an elderly population. Strong correlations between the occurrence of hearing loss and diabetes type II, cognitive decline, risk of fall and a range of other conditions are being investigated. This talk aims to provide an overview over
i) the impact of hearing loss on quality of life;
ii) the benefit of using hearing instruments;
iii) the state of knowledge of the correlations between hearing loss and other health conditions in elderly people.


The increase of aircraft noise annoyance in communities near airports: Causes and consequences

Thursday, June 22,  9:00 h, Room C60

Rainer Guski
Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany

Field research data indicate an ongoing increase of aircraft noise annoyance in communities at given LpAeq levels. The lecture will discuss several potential causes of this process:

  1. Methodological changes in the studies,
  2. Contextual changes reflected in the studies,
  3. General increase of the number of aircraft movements,
  4. Changes in the composition of aircraft fleets, and
  5. Attitudinal changes in the residents.

At present, several consequences can be drawn:
1. Recommendations with respect to intolerable levels of continuous noise for aircraft and railway traffic should be adjusted.  Within this process, it seems recommendable to distinguish between low rate and high rate change airports.  2. Since the increase of the number of flight movements, as well as the change in fleet mix seem to be systematically related to  the annoyance increase, assumptions of the energy-equivalent long-term continuous sound pressure should be re-evaluated and amended or supplemented by additional acoustic variables.
3. We should keep an eye on the development of socially shared values and attitudes related to personal autonomy, as well as to the evaluation of airports, and their noise policy.