Excessive noise could take years off your life

Photo credit: Owen Barker

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

A New York Times reporting team, headed by Emily Baumgaertner, released three stories last week examining the non-auditory health impacts of transportation noise. In the first story, reporters used a professional sound meter to capture levels of sound in everyday life and interviewed experts to qualify those findings. The second offers resources for readers to measure the amount of noise exposure in their communities, and the third gives them to chance to submit testimonies to the Times. The reporters note that transportation noise activates stress responses in humans, causing increases in blood pressure, heart rate and stress hormone levels — factors that can increase the risk of hypertension, heart attack and stroke. Quiet Communities founder Jamie Banks, PhD, MSc, and I were among the scientists consulted for this article.
When I became a noise activist in 2014, I was surprised to learn that noise had non-auditory health effects; after all, I am a board-certified internist. I knew that occupational noise exposure caused hearing loss, but I had never heard of the other well-documented non-auditory health effects.
The first article is free to read. The other two stories are behind a paywall, but I wanted Times subscribers who read this blog post to be aware of them.

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