September 3, 2014
There is now a good deal of evidence showing that aircraft noise affects health. A report published in 2013 gives some indication of how it happens.
Aircraft noise disturbs sleep, and long-term exposure has been shown to be associated with increases in the prevalence of hypertension and an overall increased risk of myocardial infarction.
The WHO (World Health Organisation) estimates that in high-income Western European countries (population ∼340 million) at least 1 million healthy life years are lost every year due to environmental noise.
While the impact can be estimated, the exact mechanisms responsible for these cardiovascular effects have until now been unclear. A new study published in the European Heart Journal gives some indication of the mechanisms: “In healthy adults, acute nighttime aircraft noise exposure dose-dependently impairs endothelial function and stimulates adrenaline release. Noise-induced ED [endothelial dysfunction] may be in part due to increased production in reactive oxygen species and may thus be one mechanism contributing to the observed association of chronic noise exposure with cardiovascular disease.”