Defining Community Tolerance Levels of noise and assessing the influence of environmental context on responses to noise exposure in the City of Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Authors: Desislava Stefanova*, Ryerson University, Tor Oiamo, Ryerson University
Topics: Geography and Urban Health, Urban Geography, Canada
Keywords: Environmental noise, Noise annoyance, Noise perception
Session Type: Paper
Scheduler ID: TUE-083-10:00 a.m.
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Endymion, Sheraton, 8th Floor


Environmental noise is an increasing challenge worldwide. Growing urban populations, conflicting land uses, and more traffic, construction, and industrial activities contribute to the already existing noise pollution in urban centres. Toronto is one of the cities facing challenges in tackling environmental noise. There is a long legacy of research showing the adverse health effects of noise and among them is noise annoyance. Noise annoyance is a main indicator of response to noise exposure. However, annoyance has long been understood to be a strongly subjective measure. Studies showed that different communities exposed to the same noise levels may have different levels of annoyance. Certain characteristics of urban environments may influence how groups of people perceive noise, which, if true, makes our current methods of assessing noise effects less appropriate because they don’t take environmental context into consideration. The current study investigates a novel methodology to show neighbourhood context influences on noise perception. The study used Community Tolerance Level (CTL) as a tool to show group sensitivity towards noise as well as conducted social-acoustic survey of three neighbourhoods of city of Toronto. The survey data examined high annoyance self-responses that were used to define CTLs for each neighbourhood. The results indicate that there are differences in noise annoyance between the three neighbourhoods after controlling for noise exposure. Moreover, socioeconomic and demographic factors appear to influence CTLs, which support the notion that neighbourhood contexts influences noise perception.

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