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Johanna Alkan Olsson outdoors. Photo.

Johanna Alkan Olsson

Social environmental scientist

Johanna Alkan Olsson outdoors. Photo.

Health impact assessment of road traffic noise exposure based on different densification scenarios in Malmö, Sweden


  • Erin Flanagan
  • Ebba Malmqvist
  • Anna Oudin
  • Karin Sunde Persson
  • Johanna Alkan Ohlsson
  • Kristoffer Mattisson

Summary, in English

While urbanization provides many opportunities to those arriving in thriving urban areas, a greater number of residents necessitates the expansion of housing and infrastructure. This is often achieved through densification, which can lead to increased noise, particularly through increased road traffic. A key challenge of promoting healthy urban planning is to understand potential health effects, especially on the local level. The aim of the present study is, therefore, to estimate and compare the health impacts of road traffic noise exposure for various urban densification scenarios within a neighborhood (Lorensborg) in Malmö, Sweden. The three scenarios include 1) Present-day, representing the study area as it is presently organized; 2) Planned municipal strategy (the city of Malmö’s own densification plans) and 3) Health-centred, which involves major structural alterations and reflects an effort prioritize a health-centred approach. Noise was modelled using the Nordic prediction method for road traffic. Health outcomes included noise annoyance, adverse sleep disturbance, ischemic heart disease (IHD) incidence and mortality. Within all scenarios, a large proportion of the study population was exposed above the WHO's health-based guideline value (Lden 53 dB): >80% for Present-day and Planned municipal strategy scenarios, and almost 50% in the Health-centred scenario. Still, densifying Lorensborg (population ≈9,600) according to the Health-centred scenario could prevent 549 cases of highly annoyed, 193 cases of adverse sleep disturbance, 4.7 new cases of IHD (8.9% of total cases), and 1.5 deaths due to IHD (17.8% of IHD mortality) annually. The results demonstrated that it is possible to considerably lower the health impact with a more health-centred densification strategy. Important co-benefits for public and environmental health include air pollution reduction and green space creation, although their health effects were not quantified in the present study. Urban planning initiatives must be more ambitious in order to create healthy, sustainable cities.


  • Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Lund University
  • Planetary Health
  • LTH Profile Area: Aerosols
  • EpiHealth: Epidemiology for Health
  • Centre for Environmental and Climate Science (CEC)
  • BECC: Biodiversity and Ecosystem services in a Changing Climate

Publishing year





Environment International



Document type

Journal article




  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology


  • Annoyance
  • Health impact assessment
  • Ischemic heart disease
  • Road traffic noise
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Urban planning



Research group

  • Planetary Health


  • ISSN: 0160-4120