The Effects Of Noise Pollution On Our Health

Published: 2009-09-13, Last Modified:

Risks Of Heart Attacks Are Higher For Those Experiencing Noise Pollution

While some may be skeptical, the Lund University research is not the only new information on the subject. Researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden released a report earlier this year that analyzed several years of heart attack data from the early 1990s. They found that those with exposure to only 50 decibels of traffic noise had a 40% increase in risk of heart attack. Now 50 decibels is only about the noise level of average rainfall so it would seem that our systems are very sensitive to levels of background noise.

Imagine then the results that scientists found in a study of people living with aircraft noise around Heathrow airport. The research effort, led by Imperial College London, monitored the sleep of these people living moderately close to the airport and determined that levels as low as 35 decibels ‘noticeably’ increased blood pressure even without the patients changing their level of consciousness. The overall findings of the study were that an increase of only a very small 10 decibels in noise volume resulted in a 14% increase in risk of high blood pressure. This demonstrates that we are indeed very sensitive to higher levels of noise.


With urban populations still growing as people move from the country to the city and the numbers of people exposed to higher levels of noise increasing, the importance of reigning in noise pollution is also increasing. As much as 40% of the population of the EU is exposed to average noise levels in excess of 55 decibels. For these people, the health risks imposed by noise pollution are not negligible. Like other forms of environmental pollution, we need to do our best to reduce the production of the pollution and get our governments to enforce regulation.

In case you think you can move to the country to get away from it all, consider that low frequency noise wind farms may soon follow you as we slowly ramp up wind production. While you may get in a few years of better sleep by moving away, its just never easy to avoid these problems.

Do you experience noise pollution on an all-to-regular basis? Do you think it is making you ill? Have you taken any special action to avoid the effects?

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Category: General Health, Health Risks, Medical Research

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