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Loud Traffic Bad For Your Health, Study Shows

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Hate loud traffic? You should. A new study suggests it could be shortening your lifespan.

The study, which was carried out by London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine researchers, involved an examination of noise levels and death records associated with people in London, England.

The researchers found that, in locations where daytime road noise went beyond 60 decibels, the death rate was approximately four per cent higher than areas where road noise was below 55-decibels.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), health problems begin to emerge when community noise exceeds 55 decibels. It’s currently estimated that roughly one in eight residents of London are exposed to traffic noise levels above 55-decibels.

The researchers, who conducted their study over a seven-year period (2003-2010) also discovered that people living in areas with loud traffic were five per cent more likely to be sent to hospital with a stroke. Among the elderly, that number almost doubled, to 9-percent.

The study’s lead researcher, Jaana Halonen, says her team took other factors–including smoking habits, socio-economic conditions, and ethnicity–into account.

This is hardly the first study to link traffic noise with health concerns. Previous studies have shown a visible connection between community noise and increased blood pressure and stress, both of which can contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease.

According to Francesco Cappucio, a cardiovascular medicine expert and a professor at the University of Warwick, it’s time for national governments to focus on this issue. “Public-health policies must pay more attention to this emerging evidence,” Cappuccio said.

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