Truck induced noise pollution in Melbourne’s inner west is more than just an annoyance, it is a serious public health issue.
A good nights sleep is essential to good health and well being. On Moore Street, Williamstown Road, Buckley Street, Sredna Street and Francis Street hundreds of trucks drive within metres of bedroom windows causing constant sleep disruption for residents every night. It is impossible for many residents on these streets to get a good night’s sleep.
Health impacts linked to long-term sleep disturbance include obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, anxiety, depression and increased drug and alcohol use. Constant disruption in sleep and circadian rhythms causes fatigue and decreased alertness, raising the risk of accidents, injuries and death. It affects performance and productivity at work and school and decreases motivation and enjoyment of life.
Children are particularly vulnerable to noise and sleep disturbance as they spend more time in bed than adults and need more sleep. The elderly, shift workers, pregnant woman, the chronically ill and those with a mental illness are also more sensitive to sleep disturbance.
Excessive truck noise also presents serious safety issues. At school crossings in peak hour on Francis Street parents and children struggle to hear each other speak. A child running onto a road or crossing at the wrong time would not hear the shout of a parent to stop. Children with sensory issues are particularly vulnerable to the level of noise at school crossings creating undue stress and anxiety on the trip to and from school each day.
The World Health Organisation guidelines for night noise recommends an annual average noise level of less than 40 dB(A) outside of bedrooms to prevent adverse health effects and less than 35 dB(A) in classrooms to allow good teaching and learning conditions.
The EPA recently undertook noise monitoring on Francis Street for 12 months, concluding in December 2013. The average noise level on a weekday was found to be 76 dB(A). Even during Sunday curfew hours the average noise level was 71.1 dB(A). This is almost 50% higher than the VicRoads noise limit at which the installation of noise walls would be required.
In 2014 the EPA carried out noise monitoring on Moore Street and Somerville Road. The noise levels on those streets measured at around 70 dB(A), only slightly below Francis Street.
These levels are high enough to have a serious detrimental effect on our health, sleep and well being, seriously diminishing our quality of life. State government, VicRoads and the EPA must take this problem seriously.
Further information can be found at:
World Health Organisation data and statistics on noise pollution – http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/environment-and-health/noise/data-and-statistics
Stansfeld SA, Matheson MP. Noise Pollution: non-auditory effects on health – http://bmb.oxfordjournals.org/content/68/1/243.full.pdf