Ears and Hearts Taking Strain from Noise Pollution
Noise pollution is a nuisance and an obvious threat to the health of our ears as we find ourselves exposed to high levels of noise for prolonged periods on a day-to-day basis. More recently, studies have shown that noise pollution may also pose a significant threat to the health of our hearts, and older people are particularly vulnerable to these ill-effects.
Researchers at Germany’s IUF Research Institute for Environmental Medicine looked at the effects of traffic noise pollution and air pollution on more than 4200 people (average age 60) across three cities, and determined that both types of pollution increase the risk of arterial hardening – also known as thoracic aortic calcification, or TAC. According to the study:
- Prolonged exposure to air pollution: 20% higher risk of TAC
- Prolonged exposure to noise pollution: 8% higher risk of TAC
Noise on the Rise
Cities around the globe are getting steadily noisier, with traffic, construction and commercial areas generating noise that far exceeds the safe level of decibels. Excessive noise has been linked to hearing damage, higher blood pressure, disturbed sleeping patterns and high stress levels, putting the health of city-dwellers the world over at risk. There is good news for those in the UK however; authorities at Heathrow Airport in London aim to address the issue of noise pollution with the Fly Quiet programme, which is due to start later this year.
Stop Sound Levels Soaring
Heathrow bosses will be ranking airlines according to the noise made by their aircraft, and impose heavier fines on those who break the noise limits. There are also plans to manage and reduce noise pollution in the homes and offices surrounding the airport, by trying new departure routes and establishing a new noise insulation scheme. Noise pollution from early-morning flight arrivals have proved particularly disruptive to people living and working near the airport.
If more major corporate and commercial establishments in the world’s cities can look into initiatives to control and reduce noise pollution, we could see a significantly happier, healthier urban population in the years to come. In the meantime however, it’s up to each one of us to protect our hearing, get regular check-ups and avoid excessive noise exposure whenever possible.