There Is Growing Evidence That Noise Is Bad For Your Health

There Is Growing Evidence That Noise Is Bad For Your Health
Road, rail and aircraft – now wind turbine and leisure added as overly noisy sources.
Tramper79/Shutterstock

The World Health Organisation recently published its latest noise pollution guidelines for Europe. The guidelines recommend outdoor noise levels that should not be exceeded for aircraft, road and rail noise and two new sources: wind turbine and leisure noise.

The aim of the guidelines is to recommend environmental noise exposure levels to protect human health from noise. The basis of the guidelines, which I helped to produce, is a series of eight systematic reviews of the published scientific evidence. A further review considered the effectiveness of interventions to reduce noise and improve health.

The reviews covered important health outcomes, such as coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, annoyance, sleep disturbance and children’s learning and hearing impairment. Other topics reviewed include mental health and quality of life, metabolic syndrome (including diabetes) and adverse birth outcomes. These were considered less important only because the research evidence for health effects – such as problems with birth – is much weaker, or the research is new and incomplete, such as associations with metabolic syndrome.

These recent studies find that exposure to road traffic noise is associated with an increased risk of abdominal obesity and diabetes. Both these health outcomes could be a consequence of exposure to prolonged stress – as a result, for example, of chronic noise. They add to the understanding of how environmental noise affects the body. There is now strong evidence that road traffic noise exposure is associated with an increased risk of heart attack.

Surround sound

New sources of noise covered by the guidelines include wind turbine noise and leisure noise (for example from nightclubs, pubs, fitness classes, live sporting events, concerts or live music venues and listening to loud music through headphones).

The health evidence for wind turbine noise is scanty. There is evidence that they cause annoyance, but the findings on sleep disturbance are inconclusive. There is no convincing evidence of more serious health effects, but the quality of most of the studies is poor. Assessment of the effects for wind turbines is complex because many other factors need to be considered, such as their visual appearance and low-frequency noise.

The limits for leisure noise are based on cumulative exposure from all sources, across the year. A big unknown is whether prolonged listening to loud music through headphones can lead to tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and hearing loss, so we need long-term studies to explore this further.


 Get The Latest From InnerSelf


There is growing evidence that noise is bad for your health: We don’t know the potential cumulative damage of listening to music through headphones.
We don’t know the potential cumulative damage of listening to music through headphones.
SFIO CRACHO/Shutterstock.com

Although the new Environmental Noise Guidelines were prepared for Europe, they are suitable for worldwide use. They provide useful information for policymakers in local and central governments about the potential health effects from noise in their populations and should shape interventions to reduce noise and improve health.The Conversation

About The Author

Stephen Stansfeld, Professor of psychiatry, Queen Mary University of London

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Related Books

{amazonWS:searchindex=Books;keywords=noise pollution;maxresults=3}

enafarzh-CNzh-TWnltlfifrdehiiditjakomsnofaptruessvtrvi

follow InnerSelf on

facebook-icontwitter-iconrss-icon

 Get The Latest By Email

{emailcloak=off}

FROM THE EDITORS

Why Donald Trump Could Be History's Biggest Loser
by Robert Jennings, InnerSelf.com
Updated July 2, 20020 - This whole coronavirus pandemic is costing a fortune, maybe 2 or 3 or 4 fortunes, all of unknown size. Oh yeah, and, hundreds of thousands, maybe a million, of people will die…
Blue-Eyes vs Brown Eyes: How Racism is Taught
by Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf
In this 1992 Oprah Show episode, award-winning anti-racism activist and educator Jane Elliott taught the audience a tough lesson about racism by demonstrating just how easy it is to learn prejudice.
A Change Is Gonna Come...
by Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf
(May 30, 2020) As I watch the news on the events in Philadephia and other cities in the country, my heart aches for what is transpiring. I know that this is part of the greater change that is taking…
A Song Can Uplift the Heart and Soul
by Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf
I have several ways that I use to clear the darkness from my mind when I find it has crept in. One is gardening, or spending time in nature. The other is silence. Another way is reading. And one that…
Mascot for the Pandemic and Theme Song for Social Distancing and Isolation
by Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf
I came across a song recently and as I listened to the lyrics, I thought it would be a perfect song as a "theme song" for these times of social isolation. (Lyrics below the video.)