Many urban dwellers know the familiar fatigue caused by persistent traffic and aircraft noise, but it’s not just hearing and mental health that suffer. New research shows that sound can have deleterious effects on heart health, report Cypress Hansen and Knowable Magazine in The Atlantic.
A German cardiologist living near the Frankfurt Airport started studying the issue after the airport installed a new runway, adding to the daily air traffic and noise experienced by its neighbors. “In the last decade, a growing body of research more directly links air and road-traffic noise to heightened risks for a number of cardiovascular ailments—and scientists are starting to pinpoint the mechanisms at play.” In the case of the Frankfurt airport, people living nearby have a 7% higher risk of stroke.
Research like this has spurred city leaders around the world to more closely analyze the effects of urban noise on health and take measures to mitigate the impact of noise pollution on public health. “Despite the remaining questions, there’s a growing recognition of connections between noise pollution and reduced physical health. A 2018 report by the World Health Organization noted that each year, Western Europeans are collectively losing more than 1.6 million years of healthy life because of traffic noise.” As the data become clearer, cities can develop more comprehensive strategies to minimize noise pollution and protect public health.