The Link Between Noise Pollution and Heart Disease
The stress of constant noise is much more than an annoyance or a cause for a lack of sleep. It has been independently linked to an increased risk for cardiovascular odisease in a German study of more than 4,000 individuals.
Experts now see that noise pollution plays a significant role in increasing certain contributors to conditions like atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.
To assess an individual’s risk for cardiovascular issues, researchers at the Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine used a measure of arterial hardening known as “thoracic aortic calcification” (TAC).
When the data was complete, noise pollution was found to increase TAC scores by 8 percent.
People who live near 24-hour businesses, like airports, truck stops, subways and train stations all run the risk of noise-related cardiovascular disease. While an 8 percent TAC score increase may not sound like much, that number can translate into a significant risk factor for certain groups.
Women who are already sensitive to noise, for example, can find their cardiovascular health risk increase by as much as 80 percent.
How does relentless noise affect our body?
Noise can affect more than just our ears. It can impact sleep patterns, cause headaches, and ultimately affect learning and focus. The result is that the body begins to experience stress.
Along with stress comes the release of hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline, which can eventually lead to high blood pressure, stroke and even heart failure.
“Many people become habituated to noise over time,” said Deepak Prasher, a professor of audiology at University College in London and a member of the WHO Noise Environmental Burden on Disease working group. “The biological effects are imperceptible, so that even as you become accustomed to the noise, adverse physiological changes are nevertheless taking place, with potentially serious consequences to human health.”
What can be done to reduce noise pollution?
The single biggest way to reduce noise in a home or office is to use noise blocking add-on windows.
Studies of hundreds of offices and homes show that the most significant amount of noise comes through windows, not walls. While many people spend thousands of dollars on “sound proofing” the walls of their buildings, laboratory studies show that more than 90% of all the exterior noise comes in through doors and windows.
Dual pane windows have been shown to be ineffective at handling noise issues. They are designed to handle heat and cold. The engineering needed for sound is quite different from handling temperature. That’s why people looking for noise relief who simply replace their dual pane windows are often disappointed.
A solution that has shown to reduce noise levels by 75 percent to 95 percent is adding soundproof windows. These add-on windows install quickly on the interior of a room. They blend with the window frame and dramatically reduce the level of outside noise that comes into the living space.
Independent laboratory tests confirm noise reductions of 92 to 99 percent as verified by audio instrumentation. While the human ear cannot detect that level of precision, the difference in noise levels in a room is significant.