According to a paper published by the European Heart Journal, living in an area of high noise pollution, specifically road traffic may actually reduce your life expectancy.
The research, undertaken by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, King’s College London and Imperial College London, focused on 8.6 million people living in the capital between the years 2003 and 2010. Analysing the average noise of the road traffic during the day and separately during the night on a postcode by postcode basis, the research team then compared their findings with deaths and hospital admissions of those falling into two age brackets; Adults (25 years and older), and the elderly (75 years and older).
The results were very interesting indeed. In areas where the daytime traffic noise was over 60dB, deaths due to heart and circulatory disease were four percent more common. It was postulated by the research team that this could be caused by hypertension, problems with sleep and stress as a direct result of noise pollution.
Likewise, those living in areas with average daytime pollution of over 60dB are five percent more likely to suffer strokes compared to those areas in which the average is below 55dB. At night this translated to a 5% increase in hospital admissions for stroke victims for those who fell into the ‘elderly’ category.
This is the first research of it’s kind, with previous teams investigating the link between noise pollution and hypertension and noise pollution, the data hasn’t, until now, been compared with the death rate in corresponding locations. These results further highlight the World Health Organisation’s warning that those living with daytime noise pollution of over 55dB will suffer problems with their health.
In London this affects 1.6million people.
Due to the fact that the sample base was taken over areas of land, as opposed to an individual case by case basis, the results are not completely conclusive, however it has been noted by the researchers that their findings are in direct correlation with previous investigations into noise pollution and hypertension – one of the leading causes of strokes.
Speaking of the results, DR Jaana Halonen stated: “Road traffic noise has previously been associated with sleep problems and increased blood pressure, but our study is the first in the UK to show a link with deaths and strokes. This is the largest study of its kind to date, looking at everyone living inside the M25 over a seven-year period. Our findings contribute to the body of evidence suggesting reductions in traffic noise could be beneficial to our health.”
Image by Jon