03/31/2011

WHO says that noise is bad for us

A new report from the World Health Organisation quantifies the number of healthy life years lost in Europe because of environmental noise. Aviation is one of the noise sources examined.

 


WHO noise report.jpgThe title of the report, issued yesterday, Wednesday 30 March 2011, is

Burden of disease from environmental noise
Quantification of healthy life years lost in Europe

It is rather a long report (128 pages), which I have not yet read in its entirety. However, I thought it worthwhile to include the foreword and then to share with you some interesting references to aviation noise and night flights. In some of the references there is a specific mention of effects on children. First, the foreword of the report.

Public health experts agree that environmental risks constitute 25% of the burden of disease. Widespread exposure to environmental noise from road, rail, airports and industrial sites contributes to this burden. One in three individuals is annoyed during the daytime and one in five has disturbed sleep at night because of traffic noise. Epidemiological evidence indicates that those chronically exposed to high levels of environmental noise have an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases such as myocardial infarction. Thus, noise pollution is considered not only an environmental nuisance but also a threat to public health.

The different sections of the report, each of which may have an extensive bibliography, are

1. INTRODUCTION
2. ENVIRONMENTAL NOISE AND CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE
3. ENVIRONMENTAL NOISE AND COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENT IN CHILDREN
4. ENVIRONMENTAL NOISE AND SLEEP DISTURBANCE
5. ENVIRONMENTAL NOISE AND TINNITUS
6. ENVIRONMENTAL NOISE AND ANNOYANCE
7. CONCLUSIONS

Next, some excerpts: text in red is a direct quote from the report.

At the same average noise level, aircraft noise tends to be more annoying and conventional railway noise less annoying than road traffic noise.

The recent large-scale RANCH study, which compared the effect of road traffic and aircraft noise on children’s (9–10 years, N = 2844) cognitive performance in the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom, found a linear exposure–effect relationship between long-term exposure to aircraft noise and impaired reading comprehensionand recognition memory.

WHOblood pressure.jpgThere is a link between aircraft noise and the prevalence or incidence of high blood pressure. The level of noise at which this is detected, based on studies in Amsterdam and Stockholm,  is around 55 dBA (the standard classification used for measuring aircraft noise).

Aircraft noise, because of its intensity, the location of the source, and its variability and unpredictability, is likely to have a greater effect on children’s reading than road traffic noise, which might be of a more constant intensity.

There are indications of a time trend, whereby the most recent studies show the highest self-reported sleep disturbance, leading to a possible underestimation of the response at a given aircraft noise exposure level by the current curve.

recent laboratory studies indicate that the impact of traffic noise on sleep structure increases in the order air road rail

Pleasant dreams!


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