Tag Archive: hypertension

Road traffic noise causes diabetes and hypertension

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

This report from US News & World Report discusses a Canadian study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, showing that long-term exposure to road traffic noise causes diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure).

The research article on which the US News report is based is available online. As the authors note, this is the largest such study done in North America. Other factors, including universal health care in Canada, minimize the risk of selection bias.

And the findings are consistent with animal research and other similar studies done in Europe and elsewhere in Canada. Road traffic noise and aircraft noise are recognized in Europe as health hazards.

Dr. Daniel Fink is a leading noise activist based in the Los Angeles area. He is the founding chair of The Quiet Coalition, an organization of science, health, and legal professionals concerned about the impacts of noise on health, environment, learning, productivity, and quality of life in America. Dr Fink also is the interim chair of Quiet Communities’ Health Advisory Council, and he served on the board of the American Tinnitus Association from 2015-2018.

Traffic noise is not a “mere annoyance”:

Harmful road traffic noise affects a quarter of Europeans.  Reuters reports on an the European Environment Agency (EEA) assessment of the impact of noise pollution which concluded that, “[h]armful levels of road traffic noise affect one in four people in Europe and raise health risks ranging from sleepless nights to heart disease.”  The EEA’s report noted that noise pollution is “a major environmental health problem in Europe,” putting “what it called the “European soundscape” under threat. 

Traffic noise was the main source of this damaging noise, according to the assessment, with railways, airports and industrial sites adding to the overall noise burden.  The EEA estimated that “environmental noise caused up to 10,000 premature deaths in Europe every year,” adding that “[m]ore than 900,000 cases of hypertension could be traced to noise.”  In response to these health threats, the EEA report calls for “better planning ranging from preserving quiet areas in cities to less noisy tyres on cars.”

Thanks to Antonella Radicchi for the link.

Think that noise is merely annoying? Think again:

New York City, October 2015, Manhattan

New York City, October 2015, Manhattan

Loud Noises Are Slowly Ruining Your Health.  David Hillier, writing for Vice, examines the effects of noise pollution on health, noting that the World Health Organization (WHO) considers noise pollution “the second biggest environmental cause of health problems in humans after air pollution.”  You’ll note that the WHO says “health problems” and not hearing problems, because noise pollution doesn’t just affect hearing.  As Hillier writes, “[s]tudies from 2012 suggested [noise pollution] contributed to 910,000 additional cases of hypertension across Europe every year and 10,000 premature deaths related to coronary heart diseases or strokes.”  Click the link above for more.

Study links blood pressure risk to road noise

Grace - New York City - ManhattanResearch from five European countries finds traffic noise is associated with an increase in hypertension cases.  The study at issue was fairly robust, tracking “41,000 people in five different countries for up to nine years.”  Long and short, the study found that “people living in noisy streets, where there were average night-time noise levels of 50 decibels, had a 6% increased risk of developing hypertension compared to those living on quieter streets.”  A 6% increased risk is not insignificant, and that statistic highlights an important fact: noise isn’t just a nuisance, it’s a public health threat.

New Yorkers, mark your calendars:

On September 24th the Noise Hackathon is presenting a series of fascinating talks that will look “into the complexities of noise including urban noise pollution and noise music to jump-start a full day of noise hacking.”  One of the talks will be presented by Dr. Arline Bronzaft, one of the leading experts in environmental psychology, who will talk about the impact of noise on health, particularly the  “non-auditory health risks and physiological disorders, including children’s learning skills, hypertension, sleep deprivation, and cardiovascular complications, as well as work productivity and social behavior.”

The September 24th Noise Hackathon is presented as part of NoiseGate Festival 2016, a “5-day music festival focusing on the environment, bringing awareness to spatial and urban noise pollution “in 3D” via Data-Driven, Art-Driven, Community-Driven efforts.”  Admission to the Noise Hackathon is free.  Just click the link to RSVP.