Dangers of Noise Pollution: Hype or Truth?

Your noise complaint is just as valid as a complaint about someone smoking in a nonsmoking area. It’s no theory: Noise pollution really does pollute one’s health, and not just in the form of hearing loss.

The October 29, 2013 Lancet has a report from an international team of researchers about the hazards of excessive noise at the workplace, and in social and environmental settings.

The report says that in addition to hearing loss, noise pollution contributes adversely to heart disease, cognition and mental health, and insomnia.

What comprises noise pollution?

The study’s lead author, Mathias Basner, MD, PhD, notes the following: earbuds, traffic and even the influx of “beeping of monitors” in hospitals. “What we hear all day impacts many parts of our bodies,” says Dr. Basner in the report.

What do YOU hear all day? It could be the thundering roar of a newspaper press (I used to work for a newspaper). It could be the blasting music at the bar or nightclub you work at or frequent.

The intermittent loud crashing of metal in the weightlifting area of a gym also qualifies as noise pollution. People who let the barbell crash to the floor after pulling it up for the last deadlift are damaging their hearing. I’m a certified personal trainer, and this dropping is not necessary, no matter how “failed” your muscles are.

“Our understanding of how different types of noise impact aspects of health other than hearing loss,” says Dr. Basner, “is continuously increasing.”

The researchers included an international panel of experts representing various areas of noise pollution and public health. The International Commission on Biological Effects of Noise summarized current findings related to how noise exposure impacts overall health. The studies they analyzed pertained to cardiovascular medicine, psychology, hospital medicine, sleep medicine and otolaryngology.

The report points out that the hazardous effects of workplace noise results in about $242 million annually spent on “compensation for hearing loss disability.” Pollution doesn’t have to be something that’s inhaled. A toxin doesn’t have to be eaten. Poison can be heard.

Basner et al also found that chronic exposure to environmental noise is linked to high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke, as well as children’s cognitive abilities.

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Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131029220800.htm

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