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Stroke and Heart Disease Linked to Aircraft Noise

October 9, 2013
Environmental Protection

A study published in the British Medical Journal has linked exposure to aircraft noise with higher mortality rates from stroke and heart disease. Researchers from London?s Imperial and King’s colleges compared data on aircraft noise exposures with hospital admissions and mortality rates among 3.6 million people living near Heathrow Airport. Results showed a 10-20% higher risk associated with stroke or heart disease amongst those who were exposed to the highest noise levels compared to areas with the least noise. The lead author of the study Dr Anna Hansell from the School of Public Health at Imperial College was however quick to point out that further work needs to be undertaken before a firm link can be demonstrated. ?These findings suggest a possible link between high levels of aircraft noise and risk of heart disease and stroke. The exact role that noise exposure may play in ill health is not well established? she said.

Covering twelve London Boroughs, the survey looked at areas where aircraft noise exceeds 50 decibels and took into account other factors that have been linked to stroke and heart disease in the past, such as social deprivation, ethnic composition, and road traffic noise. Whilst it is accepted that the study is a starting point for further research, Professor Stephen Stansfeld from the University of London believes there is no reason why the results should not be taken into account in decisions on new developments, saying; “Planners need to take this into account when expanding airports in heavily populated areas or planning new airports.”

Full details: A. Hansell et al. ?Aircraft noise and cardiovascular disease near Heathrow airport in London: small area study.? British Medical Journal?2013;347:f5432 doi: 10.1136/bmj.f5432


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