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In a project funded by MERCUR, the Centre for Urban Epidemiology at the University Hospital of Essen and the Technical University of Dortmund are analysing how soundscapes and health in the Ruhr area are connected.

The background sounds of urban regions have been a concern of architecture and construction technology for years. In the context of health research however, sound has been restricted to the risk factor noise. Soundscapes comprise the sound events of the natural and physical environment, which are determined by sound level, frequency and time. Soundscape Ecology focuses on the spatio-temporal heterogeneity of soundscapes in (urban) landscapes and is thus a suitable methodical approach to the analysis of the relationships between soundscapes and human health. The pilot project aims to develop metrological and spatio-statistical models for the identification of criteria for health-promoting soundscapes as well as the analysis of health effects of soundscapes in urban agglomerations. By direct and automated auditory measurements, one of the largest multi-seasonal urban Soundscape datasets is to be established and blended with health-related data from the population based Heinz Nixdorf recall (HNR) study. In addition, local residents are to be interviewed regarding their perceptions of soundscapes. The project serves as a starting point for an innovative approach to understanding the effects of sound quality on health in urban regions as well as for development of solution strategies in spatial and city planning.


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