Noise: The other pollution hurting our health

One in five Europeans ...

Posted: Oct 10, 2018 10:31 AM
Updated: Oct 10, 2018 10:31 AM

One in five Europeans is regularly exposed to noise levels that could "significantly" damage their health, the World Health Organization says, and it updated guidelines on those levels in Europe on Tuesday.

Environmental noise is among the "top environmental risks to health," according to the WHO report.

Health and medical

Mental health

Business and industry sectors

Business, economy and trade

Roads and traffic

Transportation and warehousing

Transportation infrastructure

Cardiovascular disease

Diseases and disorders

Heart disease

Environment and natural resources

Noise pollution

Non-profit and NGO organizations

Pollution

Public health

World Health Organization

Environmentalism

More than 100 million Europeans are affected by road traffic noise alone each year. "Noise continues to be a concern," noted Dr. Dorota Jarosińska, program manager for living and working environments at the WHO regional office for Europe.

The new guidelines are "an important update," given the evidence and links to health problems, said Stephen Stansfeld, professor at Barts and Queen Mary University of London and chair of the Guideline Development Group, an independent organization that advised WHO on the guidelines.

Excessive noise can affect blood pressure, hypertension and heart disease, which can lead to heart attacks and mortality from cardiovascular disease. Children's cognition and health are also affected.

Jonathan Gale, a professor of cell biology and director of the UCL Ear Institute, wrote in an email that he "welcomes the new WHO guidelines as they bring the human impact of noise exposure to the fore."

This report, the first since 1999 to address noise levels, included considerations on new noise sources such as wind turbine and "leisure noise," which includes music at nightclubs, pubs, fitness classes, live sporting events and concerts and through personal listening devices.

Two independent expert groups in the field of environmental noise reviewed recent research and helped develop the guidelines about acceptable 24-hour and nighttime noise levels.

The new recommendations suggested reducing average noise levels of road traffic below 53 decibels, the equivalent of hearing a dishwasher in the next room. At night, 45 dB of road traffic noise was recommended. WHO said 40% of European Union residents are exposed to traffic noise levels exceeding 55 dB.

Stephen Turner, president-elect of the Institute of Acoustics in the UK, believes that this reduction "can be achieved."

"The challenge is, there are an awful lot of people affected. Whether we have the technology yet to be able to secure that reduction without having an adverse impact on travel and connectivity, I'm not sure," he added.

For railways, aircraft and wind turbine noise, an average level of 44 dB to 54 dB was recommended, depending on the source. Noise from aircraft at night is suggested to be limited to less than 40dB, as higher levels of aircraft noise are associated with adverse effects on sleeping.

Leisure noise -- which is usually desired -- was recommended to be kept at an average of 70 dB. Damages to hearing outcomes can be tied to the source, and therefore we have a higher tolerance for desired noises.

WHO published guidelines on community noise in 1999 and night noise in 2009. In 2010, the member states of the European region requested guidelines including leisure and wind turbine noise.

Noise pollution is very diverse. Each source has different characteristics of loudness and consistency, according to the report. The health effects of each type of noise pollution therefore vary. But the new guidelines are based on reviewed evidence that noise exposure has risks of negative health outcomes. "The most frequent impacts are annoyance and sleep disturbance," Stansfeld said.

Gale noted, "Exposure to environmental noise can result in hearing loss that, in the longer term, can cause social isolation and [an] impact on health and well-being. Both the level and duration of the exposure are important factors.

"However we know much less about the effects of exposure to low levels of environmental noise over long periods," he added. "We think such noise is unlikely to affect our sensory hair cells [in our ears] but may well effect our brain processes and possibly our mental health."

Children were particularly affected by airplane noise, with evidence showing effects on reading comprehension and development of metabolic syndromes, such as obesity and diabetes. These effects can be aided from the chronic stress of being exposed to traffic noise.

Turner noted that the health effects, such as increased risk of heart attacks, manifest at "high exposure" of noise levels. "If we focus on reducing the high exposure [of noise pollution], we can reduce those adverse health risks."

West Lafayette
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 79°
Kokomo
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 75°
Rensselaer
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 72°
Fowler
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 72°
Williamsport
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 74°
Crawfordsville
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 72°
Frankfort
Broken Clouds
76° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 78°
Delphi
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 74°
Monticello
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 74°
Logansport
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 75°
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 51612

Reported Deaths: 2760
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion12074693
Lake5650249
Elkhart361860
Allen2952134
St. Joseph214869
Hamilton1708101
Cass16459
Hendricks1466100
Johnson1345118
Porter84038
Tippecanoe7799
Vanderburgh7686
Clark71144
Madison67864
LaPorte62328
Howard60758
Bartholomew60145
Kosciusko5824
Marshall5579
Noble52028
Boone49144
LaGrange48610
Jackson4783
Delaware47552
Hancock46836
Shelby45925
Floyd41444
Monroe34828
Morgan34531
Grant32226
Dubois3096
Montgomery29820
Henry29618
Clinton2903
White27610
Dearborn26523
Warrick26129
Vigo2588
Decatur25632
Lawrence25225
Harrison21822
Greene19632
Miami1942
Jennings17912
Putnam1738
DeKalb1694
Scott1659
Wayne1586
Daviess15117
Perry14910
Steuben1382
Orange13723
Jasper1362
Ripley1347
Franklin1288
Gibson1242
Wabash1163
Carroll1142
Starke1083
Whitley1076
Fayette1067
Newton10110
Huntington942
Jefferson872
Wells821
Randolph804
Fulton731
Jay720
Knox710
Washington681
Pulaski661
Clay645
Rush623
Posey610
Spencer571
Owen521
Benton510
Sullivan501
Adams491
Brown431
Blackford402
Fountain362
Crawford330
Switzerland320
Tipton321
Parke270
Martin260
Ohio230
Vermillion200
Warren151
Union140
Pike120
Unassigned0193

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events