The Loh Down On Science

A surprising source of noise has unfortunate health implications

BBC

Plane landing at London's Heathrow Airport.

Can noisy neighbors be a health hazard?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh for the Loh Down on Science, saying:

Yes!  If your neighbor is a busy metropolitan airport. 

So says a new study by Anna Hansell and colleagues at Imperial College London.  They studied boroughs in the vicinity of Heathrow Airport, one of the busiest in the world. 

Those three-million-plus residents enjoy the glamour of international travel – all day, every day.  The "whoosh" of 747s.  The "buzz" of A-380s.   And the party doesn’t stop when the sun goes down.  Annoying?  You bet.  Life-threatening?  Unfortunately, yes.

Excessive noise – like road noise – has already been linked to high blood pressure and sleep deprivation.  But when the researchers compared hospital records and decibel ranges in those “fly-by” neighborhoods, they also saw a noticeable increase in strokes, cardiovascular disease, and mortality.  A separate Harvard University project studied U.S. airports, with similarly dire results.

The researchers say city planners should "have a heart" when it comes to building airports in urban areas.
 
Either that, or supply lots of free air miles to Hawaii, with a whole lot of those cute little neck pillows.  And delicious honey-roasted peanuts.  It’s only fair.

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The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, in partnership with the University of California, Irvine, and 89.3 KPCC. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.


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