Ex­po­sure to road noise may lessen life ex­pectancy: doc­tors

The China Post - - LIFE GUIDE POST -

Liv­ing in a neigh­bor­hood with noisy road traf­fic may re­duce life ex­pectancy and boost the risk of stroke, doc­tors re­ported in a study on Wed­nes­day.

Re­searchers com­pared noise lev­els and data for deaths and hos­pi­tal ad­mis­sions across Lon­don, they said in a pa­per pub­lished in the Euro­pean Heart Jour­nal.

In places where day­time road traf­fic noise ex­ceeded 60 deci­bels, there were four per­cent more deaths than in qui­eter ar­eas where the noise was 55 deci­bels or be­low.

The World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO) sets 55 deci­bels as the thresh­old of com­mu­nity noise be- yond which health prob­lems are pos­si­ble.

Res­i­dents of nois­ier ar­eas were also five per­cent like­lier to be ad­mit­ted to hos­pi­tal with a stroke — a fig­ure that rose to nine per­cent among the el­derly.

Sig­nif­i­cant night- time noise from road traf­fic, rang­ing from 55 to 60 deci­bels, was also linked to a five-per­cent in­creased stroke risk, but only among the el­derly.

The pa­per took into ac­count fac­tors such as smok­ing habits, so­cio-eco­nomic sta­tus and eth­nic­ity.

The sur­vey, led by Jaana Halo­nen from the Lon­don School of Hy­giene and Trop­i­cal Medicine, cov­ered dis­tricts within the M25 mo­tor­way which rings the Brit- ish cap­i­tal. The study spanned 2003-2010.

More than 1.6 out of Lon­don’s 8.6 mil­lion in­hab­i­tants are ex­posed to day­time traf­fic with noise above 55 deci­bels, it found.

Out­side com­men­ta­tors said the in­creased health risk was small but clear.

The find­ings match other re­search show­ing that noise in­creases blood pres­sure and stress, which are con­trib­u­tors to car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, they said.

“Public- health poli­cies must pay more at­ten­tion to this emerg­ing ev­i­dence,” Francesco Cap­puc­cio, a pro­fes­sor of car­dio­vas­cu­lar medicine at the Univer­sity of War­wick, told Bri­tain’s Science Media Cen­tre.

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