Two in every hundred deaths from heart disease may be caused by stress related to noise, says a study that suggests thousands of people in Britain may be dying from a lack of peace and quiet.
Research from the World Health Organization (WHO) has shown the striking contribution of noise to premature deaths from disease.
Noise is linked to heart attack and stroke because it creates chronic stress that keeps our bodies in a state of constant alert. Even when somebody is asleep, their ears, brain and body continue to react to sounds, raising levels of stress hormones.
If these stress hormones are in constant circulation, they can cause long-term physiological changes that could be life-threatening.
The new WHO figures suggest that two per cent of Europeans suffer severely disturbed sleep because of noise pollution.
Until now, noise has been the Cinderella form of pollution and people haven't been aware that it has an impact on their health," Deepak Prasher, professor of audiology at University College London, told the New Scientist.
The WHO has yet to finalise what levels of exposure cause problems, though the threshold for cardiovascular troubles, for example, is above 50 decibels at night or above 60 during the day - equivalent to the noise of a dishwasher.
The WHO's investigations have been triggered in part by a rapid increase in complaints about noise pollution.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics state that noise complaints to local government offices in Britain have increased fivefold over the past 20 years.
Last Mod: 23 Ağustos 2007, 17:30