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  • Writer's pictureRae Story

Noise Annoys: how sound affects health

On the Today program, radio 4, Friday 2nd March Englands Chief Medical Officer Prof Dame Sally Davies said the impact of air, light and noise pollution was well recognised in the environment. But she said its role in terms of health was yet to be fully understood. Dame Sally added there was enough evidence to suggest action had to be taken. In her annual report, which is essentially a public health report, she said the NHS could lead the way in cutting pollution levels saying for example that one in 20 vehicle journeys was linked to the NHS, either from patients or staff travelling.

“Pollution is like junk food, it doesn’t kill you on the day, but slowly it can accumulate and do you harm” She made the point that we are not measuring pollutants, and we are not investigating the impact on health – and that we need both, we need to research this now rather than regretting in the future that we hadn't taken it seriously earlier.

So this report is a call for more research into pollutants and their impact on our national health.

However, a previous EU Comissioned Research 2015 documents effects on physiological health, mental health and children's learning and found that preserving quiet spaces improves health:

This article in the business insider is also a call to take noise pollution seriously: from

One research study just published in February does find noise pollution linked to Heart Disease:

You can access the original according to a new review in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology:

Noise also seems to be a driving factor in oxidative stress and metabolic abnormalities, the authors say, which could contribute to other chorionic diseases like diabetes. And for people who already have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, living in a noisy environment could accelerate issues like atherosclerosis.

“The important point is that noise is not just annoying,” lead author Dr. Thomas Munzel, director of the department of internal medicine, said in an email. While his paper focuses largely on cardiovascular and metabolic implications of noise, he also points out that there’s growing evidence that chronic noise can also cause mental-health diseases (including depression and anxiety), and can impair the cognitive development of children.

Humans are not the only species affected by noise pollution. This article documents Post Traumtic Stress Response in birds nesting close to Oil and gas compressors:

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