I recently took a week off and headed for the beach. The room for the week didn’t quite get the sea view, instead it got the lagoon view. The lagoon view was pleasant but came with a road – the only road taking traffic up and down the coast. The road turned what should have been an opportunity to recuperate into a tough few days. The noise simply never stopped………… creating an unexpected stress in “paradise”.
A noisy street produces health troubles
I am not being melodramatic – living on a noisy street is more than just a mild irritation, it can have an impact on your health especially if you are older than 65 years (probably because by this age – everything is stressful!). The louder the noise the bigger the impact.
The Danish “Diet, Cancer and Health” study
The noise-health connection was discovered by Danish researchers.
The researchers analyzed a very large group (51 485) people living in the Copenhagen and Aarhus areas of Denmark. The people who took part in the study were between 50 and 64 years old when the study began and they were monitored for 10 years. The researchers recorded both medical and residential histories of the participants.
The researchers considered all the usual things that are associated with health problems such as smoking, diet, alcohol and caffeine consumption. In addition, they also included information on where the person lived in terms of air pollution and noise pollution. The noise pollution was calculated using a computer programme which “calculated” the level of noise pollution for each person. The computer “considered” the type of traffic, the speed of the traffic, the type of road, the road surface and the type of house the person was living in as well as the position and height of the building.
During that time period 1881 people suffered a stroke.
People living at noisy addresses more likely to suffer a stroke
People over the age of 65 years living in noisy environments (over 60 dB) were at a higher risk of having a stroke.
This is not the first study that has made a connection between health and road traffic noise. Several studies have found the traffic noise increases blood pressure and heart attacks.
Physiologically the idea of a noisy environment causing health problems makes sense. The road racket most likely interferes with sleep and lack of sleep brings metabolic problems, which are at the root of cardiovascular disease.
Road racket diagnosis
It might be a while before road racket is recorded as the official cause of a stroke. The Danish study is an epidemiological study, which means it can show a connection between stroke and noise but does not prove noise causes stroke.
Make a move to reduce the neighbourhood noise
Noise equals stress. Stress causes health problems. So make a move to reduce the road racket.
First prize would be to move to the suburbs but that may not be so practical so other options to consider might be to sound proof the windows. If money is really tight, then buy some ear plugs.
PS. The pair of bright orange ear plugs saved the Margate holiday. The traffic noise finally fell silent so the beach break became a beach break.
Road traffic noise and stroke: a prospective cohort study. European Heart Journal (2011) 32(6) : 737-744 ;M. Sorensen, M. Hvidberg, Z. J. Andersen, R. B. Nordsborg, K. G. Lillelund, J. Jakobsen, A. Tjonneland, K. Overvad, O. Raaschou-Nielsen.
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