noise pollution

Air pollution and noise pollution have a negative impact on all of society — but some groups are more affected than others. Lower socioeconomic status is generally associated with poorer health, and both air and noise pollution contribute to a wide range of other factors influencing human health.

But do these health inequalities arise because of increased exposure to pollution, increased sensitivity to exposure, increased vulnerabilities, or some combination?

People who are annoyed by environmental noise are also more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety, a new, large-scale study from Germany suggests. The results do not prove that noise causes mental health issues but suggest a possible link, which the study’s authors are exploring further. Of all the types of noise considered in the study, aircraft noise was reported to be the most annoying.

 

Physical inactivity raises the risk of ill health, so environmental factors that reduce the level of physical activity in people should be of concern to policymakers as well as to individuals. A new study has associated long-term annoyance with transportation noise with reduced physical activity in Swiss residents, which may indirectly contribute to diseases including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity.

 

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Children living close to busy roads may have an increased risk of hyperactivity. They may also have more emotional problems, especially if they are exposed to higher levels of noise during the night, according to research carried out on children's health in Germany.

 

 Research on the negative health effects of noise on children has mainly focused on aircraft noise at school, but less is known about the impact of road traffic noise on children at home.

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Two articles in this Thematic Issue describe how stress and sleep disturbance resulting from environmental noise are pathways to cardiovascular disease. Research summarised in 'Transport noise mitigation must consider the medical impacts' reveals that night-time noise may have more of an impact on cardiovascular health than day-time noise. Noise exposure at night is a particular problem because it disturbs sleep. The researchers recommend that noise reduction policies consider the medical effects of noise and suggest targeting noise problems at their source.

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A new mobile phone application which can help monitor traffic-noise exposure is presented in a recent study. The app, ‘2Loud?’, can measure indoor night-time noise exposure and, given large-scale community participation, could provide valuable data to aid urban planning, the researchers say. In an Australian pilot study, nearly half of participants who used the app found that they were exposed to potentially unhealthy levels of night-time noise.