Impacts of Noise on Immune System

September   – from Environmental Protection

Impacts of Noise on Immune System | 14 Sep 2009

A new article has been published in the Noise and Health Journal, looking at whether excess noise weakens the immune system.

The article Is there evidence that environmental noise is immunotoxic? by Deepak Prasher of the Audiology Department, Royal Surrey County Hospital, looks at how noise-induced stress can lead to physiological problems.

It examines current research into the effects of noise exposure on the physiological
systems of stress, and looks at the possible ways this might have an impact on
the immune system.

For example, the article explains that traffic noise has been shown to have the
potential to cause an increase in hormone levels, including cortisal, which is
involved in the body’s response to stress and anxiety and can increase blood pressure
and blood sugar. The effects of day-time exposure to noise can even contribute
to sleep disturbance through its impact on cortisol levels, which would usually
drop at night.

Meanwhile the complexity of different people’s reactions to noise is also acknowledged,
and the article sites research showing two groups of people: ‘high reactors’,
who are significantly affected by stress and show an increase in heart rate and
blood pressure, and ‘low reactors’ who show little or no change in these areas.

The article also highlights research showing that people exposed to general stress
show an increase in infection rates and colds, and that responses to noise as
a stressor is similar to those from general noise. However, a direct link between
noise and its impact on the immune system is yet to be established.

The article is published on the Noise and Health website (subscription only)