• Traffic noise bad for your health

    More evidence has emerged about the damage traffic noise can do to people’s health.

    [mailchimp_signup][/mailchimp_signup]A study of traffic noise – from both air and road – at four of Europe’s busiest airports has shown rises in blood pressure even among those who are not woken by the noise. The study was carried out for European Heart Journal, the magazine of the European Society of Cardiology.

    Researchers monitored 140 volunteers in their sleep at 15-minute intervals, and found blood pressure increased after exposure to just 35 decibels of noise, a relatively quiet level.

    The researchers say their findings, when taken together with other research, suggest that living under a flight path might almost double the risk of hypertension.

    T&E policy officer Nina Renshaw said: ‘Not only does this study back up what we’ve been saying about the harmful impact of traffic noise, but it makes the point that it’s not the level of noise alone that does the harm but the type of noise and the time of day it is emitted. At a time when people need quiet environments in which to sleep and recharge their batteries, relatively low levels of noise can do immense harm.’

    In a separate development, a court in Prague has ruled that the city authorities, as the owner of the North-West Expressway, have an obligation to prevent people living alongside the road suffering excessive noise levels.

    According to the judgement, the city has to lower noise outside residences to 60 decibels during the day and 50 at night, and inside residences to 45 in the day and 35 at night. The city authorities have a year to comply with the judgement.

    T&E’s 12-page brochure ‘Can you hear us?’ was published earlier this month. It is designed to provide information for the Commission’s review of tyre noise limits due for completion in June, and also to be part of a wider review of EU traffic noise limits which is planned to lead to new draft legislation in 2010.