Journal of Urban Health

, Volume 91, Issue 2, pp 256–271 | Cite as

Association between Ambient Noise Exposure and School Performance of Children Living in An Urban Area: A Cross-Sectional Population-Based Study

  • Sophie Pujol
  • Jean-Pierre Levain
  • Hélène Houot
  • Rémy Petit
  • Marc Berthillier
  • Jérôme Defrance
  • Joseph Lardies
  • Cyril Masselot
  • Frédéric MaunyEmail author


Most of the studies investigating the effects of the external noise on children’s school performance have concerned pupils in schools exposed to high levels due to aircraft or freeway traffic noise. However, little is known about the consequences of the chronic ambient noise exposure at a level commonly encountered in residential urban areas. This study aimed to assess the relationship between the school performance of 8- to 9-year-old-children living in an urban environment and their chronic ambient noise exposure at home and at school. The children’s school performances on the national standardized assessment test in French and mathematics were compared with the environmental noise levels. Children’s exposure to ambient noise was calculated in front of their bedrooms (Lden) and schools (LAeq,day) using noise prediction modeling. Questionnaires were distributed to the families to collect potential confounding factors. Among the 746 respondent children, 586 were included in multilevel analyses. On average, the LAeq,day at school was 51.5 dB (SD= 4.5 dB; range = 38–58 dB) and the outdoor Lden at home was 56.4 dB (SD= 4.4 dB; range = 44–69 dB). LAeq,day at school was associated with impaired mathematics score (p = 0.02) or impaired French score (p = 0.01). For a + 10 dB gap, the French and mathematics scores were on average lower by about 5.5 points. Lden at home was significantly associated with impaired French performance when considered alone (p < 10−3) and was borderline significant when the combined home-school exposure was considered (p = 0.06). The magnitude of the observed effect on school performance may appear modest, but should be considered in light of the number of people who are potentially chronically exposed to similar environmental noise levels.


Environmental noise exposure Ambient noise Children School performance Urban area 



This work was made possible by the unconditional support of Christine Dodane (Inspection académique du Doubs). We are grateful to the children, families, and teachers who cooperated in this study. We would also like to thank Laurence Tilatti, Valérie Ninucci, Marie-Caroline Clément, and Jean-Marc Cote for their dedication to this project. This research was supported by the French Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (MEDD) as part of PREDIT, the French research program on land transportation (grant number CV05000161, established on January 27, 2006). The funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© The New York Academy of Medicine 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sophie Pujol
    • 1
    • 8
  • Jean-Pierre Levain
    • 2
  • Hélène Houot
    • 3
  • Rémy Petit
    • 4
  • Marc Berthillier
    • 5
  • Jérôme Defrance
    • 6
  • Joseph Lardies
    • 5
  • Cyril Masselot
    • 7
  • Frédéric Mauny
    • 1
    • 8
    Email author
  1. 1.Chrono-environnement laboratoryUMR 6249 CNRS/Université de Franche-ComtéBesançonFrance
  2. 2.Laboratory of PsychologyEA 3188, IUFM de l’Université de Franche-ComtéBesançonFrance
  3. 3.ThéMA laboratoryUMR 6049 CNRS/Université de Franche-ComtéBesançonFrance
  4. 4.Education authority Inspection académique du DoubsBesançonFrance
  5. 5.FEMTO-ST InstitutUMR 6174 CNRS/Université de Franche-Comté, DMABesançonFrance
  6. 6.Building research center Centre scientifique et technique du bâtimentSaint-Martin-d’HèresFrance
  7. 7.CIMEOS EA 4177/Université de BourgogneDijonFrance
  8. 8.CMCRegional Universitary Hospital of Besançon (CHRU de Besançon)Besançon CedexFrance

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