Individuals exposed to higher levels of aircraft noise are at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, say studies in both the United States and the United Kingdom.
In the American study on aircraft noise, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health and the School of Public Health at Boston University compared data from the national medical insurance program (Medicare) with noise levels provided by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the 2,218 zip codes surrounding airports.
Even after adjusting for compounding factors, the researchers discovered that individuals who lived near increased aircraft noise had a 3.5 percent higher hospital admission rate for cardiovascular disease.
Researchers from the US study explain:
“Our results provide evidence of a statistically significant association between exposure to aircraft noise and cardiovascular health, particularly at higher exposure levels. Further research should refine these associations and strengthen causal interpretation by investigating modifying factors at the airport or individual level.”
In the British study performed in London, researchers compared aircraft noise to cardiovascular disease as well as to stroke and coronary heart disease. After looking at 12 London boroughs and nine districts next to the Heathrow airport. After adjusting for compounding factors, the researchers in the UK study concluded that increased levels of aircraft noise are associated with an increased risk of stroke and coronary heart disease in addition to cardiovascular disease.
Stephen Stansfeld, a professor of psychiatry at the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, states:
“These studies provide preliminary evidence that aircraft noise exposure is not just a cause of annoyance, sleep disturbance, and reduced quality of life but may also increase morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular disease.”
The results of these two separate studies studies link living near increased levels of aircraft noise with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. As the researchers of the UK study summarize:
“How best to meet commercial aircraft capacity for London and other major cities is a matter of active debate, as this may provide major economic benefits. However, policy decisions need to take account of potential health related concerns, including possible effects of environmental noise on cardiovascular health.”