New research from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, King’s College London, and Imperial College London, has found that prolonged, repeated exposure to traffic noise appears to be correlated with a decreased life expectancy and an increased risk of stroke.
This new research follows on the heels of much recent research that shows a correlation between the air pollution caused be vehicle emissions and a large number of serious diseases and ailments.
The findings are the result of the analysis of data concerning 8.6 million residents of various portions of London, gathered between the years of 2003 and 2010. The researchers involved in this work utilized the data to discern patterns relating to variations in road traffic noise in the various postal codes. The data was divided and organized with regard to variations based on the time of day.
Data relating to deaths and hospital admissions in a given area were then compared, with the data for those between the age of 25–74 kept separate from the data for those over the age of 75.
Apparently, in places where the average traffic noise was higher than 60 decibels, people were found to be 4% more likely to die than in areas where the average was under 55 dB. The vast majority of this disparity was found to be relating to deaths via heart disease or circulatory disease. So, in other words, deaths that can be assumed to be related (at least in part) to sleep, stress, and blood pressure problems.
Additionally, adults that lived in places where traffic noise was over 60 dB were apparently 5% more prone to experience a stroke — as compared against those living in quieter areas. Traffic noise during the night hours, in particular, seems to have an outsized effect — increasing stroke risk by 5% (for the elderly).
These findings aren’t likely to surprise anyone who’s lived in both noisy city areas and also in quieter places — the effect on health is pretty obvious to anyone that pays any attention to their wellbeing. That said, perhaps having this reality supported by scientific studies will lead to changes of some sort….
One way to improve the situation, perhaps not fully but to a notable degree, would be to switch to electric vehicles. Another bigger effect would come from a societal switch to bicycling for transportation needs.
Image Credit: Traffic jam via Shutterstock