Airport noise and a correlation (not causation) to cardiovascular disease.

The CBC reports on a British Medical Journal published study on health and airport/airplane noise, titled, fittingly, Airport Noise and Cardiovascular Disease. I don’t have access to the reports, unfortunately, but it’s been getting a lot of press. Here’s the abstract:

Environmental noise is an understudied environmental pollutant that has important implications for public health and policy. Although studies of exposure to aircraft noise have examined the risk of hypertension,1 few have examined the risk of cardiovascular disease.2 One early study suggested that exposure to aircraft noise around Schiphol airport, Amsterdam, was related to medical treatment for heart disease and hypertension and the use of cardiovascular drugs after adjusting for age, sex, smoking, height and weight, and socioeconomic differences.3 Two linked BMJ studies have investigated the association between cardiovascular disease and airport noise.4 5

The study by Hansell and colleagues (doi:10.1136/bmj.f5432) found an increased risk of stroke, coronary heart disease, and cardiovascular disease for both hospital admissions and mortality in relation to daytime and night-time exposure to aircraft noise in people living around Heathrow airport, London. The results were adjusted for area level ethnicity, social deprivation, lung cancer as a proxy for smoking, road traffic noise exposure, and air pollution. A dose-response association was seen between admissions to hospital for cardiovascular disease and the level of aircraft noise.4

I’d wager studies investigating people who live next to other noisy things such as light rail lines, highways and near some industrial areas will also have a similar correlation to cardiovascular disease. However, correlation is not causation, and while I’d reserve my judgement (blame) on noise and health until more studies are done, I’d still advise people to find quieter places to live. Now, that doesn’t mean finding a quieter locale (i.e. rural and far away from everything), but it does mean finding a home that is constructed to keep noise out, and with quieter appliances.

Also, with respect to wind turbine noise, the jury still seems to be out on that. I’m looking forward to reading the results from that study.

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