Aircraft and vehicle noise linked to health problems

Evidence is growing that environmental noise has a significant impact on health. One recent report claims road and rail noise are responsible for 50,000 premature deaths a year in Europe, another that night-time aircraft noise can raise people’s blood pressure even if it does not wake them.

Environmental noise from cars and aircraft is emerging as a significant factor in cardiovascular problems, several recent studies show. The findings may have implications for policymakers considering the expansion of Heathrow and other airports, and for tyre and road surface standards.

Several health effects are already associated with environmental noise, including sleep disturbance, concentration problems and some forms of heart disease. Preliminary research carried out for the World Health Organization (WHO) suggests about 3% of heart attack deaths can be attributed to stress induced by noise pollution - more than the proportion attributed to air pollution.1

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