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Proceedings of the International Workshop on 'Combined Environmental Exposure: Noise, Air Pollutants and Chemicals'

Workshop held in Ispra, 15-16 January 2007

Contact Name
Author IHCP: S. Kephalopoulos, K. Koistinen, M. Paviotti, D. Schwela, D. Kotzias

The aim of the workshop was to review and discuss the existing scientific evidence whether prevailing environmental exposures to single and concomitant agents together with noise could lead to ototoxic or other health impacts. The final aim was to identify the research needs and to give recommendations for research and policy making in the EU level. It was agreed that research in the future should be focused on really established combinations (high correlations) and interactions (known effect) with main perspective on the traffic bundle of exposure. It was also discussed and agreed upon that the best knowledge exists on the health effects due to combined exposure to noise and solvents or heavy metals in occupational environments, especially on most of the auditory and non-auditory effects.

Possible factors that may have confounding or aggravating effects on the results of noise studies were identified. Such factors are: age, gender, smoking, obesity, alcohol, socio-economic status, occupation, education, family status, active military, experience, hereditary disease, medication, medical status, race and ethnicity, physical activity, noisy leisure activities, stress reducing activities, diet & nutrition, housing condition (crowding), and residential status.

Research priorities and recommendations for the future
The highest priority was given to issues related to research on noise and outdoor air pollutants. This is due to the fact that it may concern the largest population compared to the other stressors in this analysis and there is some evidence of serious health outcomes such as cardiovascular effects.
The next priority was given to the research on the effects of noise and solvents in occupational settings and to research on noise and organophosphates. In the future research, priority should be given to:

  1. evaluation of existing data collections whether re-analyses are possible with respect to combined exposure from traffic sources (road, rail and air),
  2. analyses of existing data concerning noise and other stressors interactions in both occupational and environmental settings,
  3. detailed assessment of combined exposures to noise, vibrations and PM, CO, NOx, and VOCs with specific studies in urban areas and, especially, cardiovascular health endpoints should be studied as priority health endpoints,
  4. identification of causal mechanisms through careful review of toxicological experimental studies.
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