Road

A Heriot-Watt academic recently featured on a BBC 5 live programme to discuss road traffic noise and what can be done to mitigate it.

The Naked Scientists podcast, which aired Tuesday 28 May, explored the theme of roads, and what can be done to build better ones.

Dr Laurent Galbrun, from the Institute for Sustainable Building Design, contributed to the programme and described how masking sounds can be used to block out noise.

He said: “Road traffic noise is a major annoyance which affects millions of people in Europe and which ultimately impacts our quality of life and wellbeing. People living next to noisy roads often suffer from sleep disruption, research having shown that they are also more susceptible to ischaemic heart disease, a serious condition which can ultimately lead to a heart attack. Typical solutions for quieter roads include developing quieter vehicles, using porous asphalt that reduce noise emissions, placing barriers along roads and increasing the sound insulation of buildings. However, a simple decrease of noise levels is often insufficient.

“Within that context, soundscape studies have shown that pleasant sounds such as water sounds can be used for masking unwanted sound, in particular helping us to focus on pleasant sounds, therefore reducing noise annoyance.

“Research carried out at Heriot-Watt University has identified what types of water sounds tend to be preferred for masking road traffic noise, what sound levels are appropriate, as well as how visual factors need to be taken into account in the design.”

The full contribution from Dr Galbrun is available to listen here