Airport Noise Instantly Boosts Blood Pressure
15.2.2008 (Air Wise News)
Living near an airport isn’t just irritating, it is also unhealthy, researchers
said in a study that showed loud noise instantly boosts a sleeping person’s blood
pressure. The louder the noise, the higher a person’s blood pressure went, a
finding that suggests people who live near airports may have a greater risk of
health problems, said Lars Jarup, who led the European Commission-funded study.
“Living near airports where you have exposure to night time aircraft noise is
a major issue,” Jarup, an environmental health researcher at Imperial College
“The reason we did airports is because there was no study that has looked at
particular problems of aircraft noise.”
High blood pressure can lead to stroke, heart failure, heart attack and kidney
failure. It affects more than a billion adults worldwide.
The research team showed that people living for at least five years near a busy
airport and under a flight path have a greater risk of developing chronic high
blood pressure, also known as hypertension, than those who live in quieter areas.
That study of nearly 5,000 people found that an increase in night time plane
noise of 10 decibels increased the risk of high blood pressure by 14 percent in
both men and women.
“We know that noise from air traffic can be a source of irritation, but our research
shows that it can also be damaging for people’s health, which is particularly
significant in light of plans to expand international airports,” Jarup said.
In the four-year study, published in the European Heart Journal, the researchers
remotely measured the blood pressure of 140 volunteers every 15 minutes while
they slept in their homes near London’s Heathrow Airport — one of the busiest
in the world — and three other major European airports.
They used digital recorders to determine what noises had the biggest impact on
blood pressure, ranging from road traffic to a partner’s snoring to a plane taking
off or landing.
The decibel level, not a sound’s origin, was the key factor, but planes had the
most significant impact, Jarup said.
“Most of the time you will find road traffic noise is not too bad during the
night,” he said. “If you live near an airport where there are night flights, that
is quite another story.”
during night-time, in order to protect the health of people living near airports ”
Imperial College London
Wednesday 13 February 2008
even if it does not wake them, according to a new study published today in the
European Heart Journal.
Scientists from Imperial College London and other European institutions monitored
140 sleeping volunteers in their homes near Heathrow and three other major European
intervals and then analysed how this related to the noise recorded in the volunteers’
heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and dementia. High blood pressure is defined
by World Health Organisation as being 140/90mmHg or more.
they experienced a ‘noise event’ – a noise louder than 35 decibels – such as aircraft
travelling overhead, traffic passing outside, or a partner snoring. This effect
could be seen even if the volunteer remained asleep and so was not consciously
6.2 mmHg and an average increase in diastolic blood pressure of 7.4 mmHg. Similar
increases in blood pressure were seen also for other noise sources such as road
loudness of the noise, so that a greater increase in blood pressure could be seen
where the noise level was higher. For example, for every 5dB increase in aircraft
noise at its loudest point, there was an increase of 0.66 mmHg in systolic blood
The decibel level – and not the origin of the sound – was the key factor in determining
the effect that each noise event had on the volunteers’ blood pressure, with similar
effects regardless of the type of noise, where the ‘loudness’ of the noise was
who have been living for at least five years near an international airport, under
a flight path, have a greater risk of developing high blood pressure than a population
living in quieter areas. That study, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, showed that an increase in night-time aeroplane noise of 10dB increased the
risk of high blood pressure by 14% in both men and women.
Health at Imperial College London, said: “We know that noise from air traffic
can be a source of irritation, but our research shows that it can also be damaging
for people’s health, which is particularly significant in light of plans to expand
international airports. Our studies show that night-time aircraft noise can affect
your blood pressure instantly and increase the risk of hypertension. It is clear
to me that measures need to be taken to reduce noise levels from aircraft, in
particular during night-time, in order to protect the health of people living
to noise and air pollution increases the risk of heart disease.
to aircraft noise.
Imperial College London
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living near airports” European Heart Journal, 13 February 2008
full list of authors please see paper)
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