Sounds the health alarm: traffic noise causes serious damage to humans

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Sounds the health alarm: traffic noise causes serious damage to humans

In 2011, Frankfurt Airport, the busiest in Germany, opened its fourth runway costing 1.5 billion euros. The completion and opening of the new runway has caused large-scale protests by local residents. Some demonstrators said that for many years, they have returned to Frankfurt Airport every Monday. The opening of the new runway has completely disrupted the pace of life of residents. A year later, a protester told reporters that the opening of a new airstrip meant that the expansion of the airport runway increased the number of flights. “Every time I walk into my own garden, I can hear and see the sky above. The new runway also guided dozens of flights directly past Thomas Muzel’s home, which is the heart of the University of Mainz Medical Center.”

A disease expert, he said: “My home is very close to the German highway and the train tracks in the city center. However, by comparison now, there are flights flying through the air every day, making huge noises the most irritating. People are irritable.” Muzel once read a report from the World Health Organization in 2009 that linked noise to heart problems, but there was insufficient evidence at the time. In 2011, given that he was living in a “noisy world” In, Muzel began to focus on the impact of noise on the human body due to concerns about his own health to a certain extent.

For a long time, people have believed that exposure to noise is related to hearing loss, but the harm caused by airplane and car noise goes far beyond hearing loss. Traffic noise is considered an important source of physiological stress. , Second only to air pollution, roughly equivalent to exposure to secondhand smoke and radon. In the past 10 years, more and more research institutions have directly linked air quality and road traffic noise to the high risk of a series of cardiovascular diseases, and scientists have begun to find out how the mechanism works.

University of Pennsylvania psychiatrist and epidemiologist Matthias Basne said: “The evidence of the physiological effects of noise, whether it is cells and organs, or the entire population, will have a certain impact. However, few people are aware of the importance of this “silent killer”.”

The hazard of road noise to the heart

Related data shows that about one-third of the Residents in Europe and the United States are often exposed to unhealthy noise levels. The environment usually reaches 70-80 decibels of noise. In contrast, the normal human conversation volume is generally between 60 decibels, and the volume of cars and trucks is between 70-90. Between decibels, the amount of sirens and aircraft noise can reach 120 decibels or even higher.

A large number of studies have shown that long-term exposure to environmental noise can increase the risk of heart-related diseases. For example, in 2018, the “Noise and Health” magazine conducted a survey of health data of more than 1 million residents, and the results showed that Residents living near Frankfurt Airport have a 7% higher risk of stroke than those living in quieter neighborhoods. In 2020, a research team reported in the European Heart Journal that they analyzed 25,000 residents who died of cardiovascular disease who lived near Zurich Airport in Switzerland between 2000 and 2015, and found that night flights flew through their lives. Districts, will cause a significant increase in the death rate of local residents, especially women.

In the process of exploring the physiology of the potential effects of noise on the cardiovascular system, the researchers focused their attention on the “culprit”-the drastic changes in the endothelial cells of the inner wall of arteries and blood vessels, which may It will change from a healthy state to an “activated” state, and cause inflammation, which has potentially serious consequences.

The path from noise to blood vessels is roughly like this: When sound is transmitted to the brain, it activates two important areas-the auditory cortex, which is responsible for interpreting noise, and the emotional response to noise. The amygdala, as the noise becomes louder and louder, especially when sleeping, the amygdala will activate the body’s “war or flight response” even if the person is not aware of the response.

Once started, this stress response will release hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol into the body, causing some arteries to contract and some to expand, blood pressure rises, digestion slows, and sugar and fat in the body will surge. Into the bloodstream for rapid consumption of muscles (if the noise level is too large and beyond people’s control, the stress response may increase). In addition, the cascade stress response can also promote the production of harmful molecules, leading to oxidative stress on the inner wall of blood vessels and causing inflammation. Dysfunctional inner walls of blood vessels affect blood flow and other processes. When the inner walls of blood vessels are damaged, it can lead to a series of cardiovascular diseases, including high blood pressure, arterial plaque accumulation, obesity and diabetes.

Studies on humans and mice have shown that after a few days of exposure to airplane night noise, blood lining cells will stop working, implying that noise does not only affect those with heart and metabolic diseases. In 2019 According to a study published by Muzel and colleagues in the journal Basic Research of Cardiology, healthy adults are exposed to train track noise during sleep and blood vessel function is almost immediately impaired.

Muzel said: “We are surprised that young people only hear the noise of the train one night, they will have vascular endothelial dysfunction. We used to think that it will take many years of unfavorable factors to develop.”

Although the data is still accumulating, it may be tricky to clarify the causal relationship. If researchers need to conduct experiments, they need to perform long-term sleep quality tests on relevant testers, and distinguish between day and night For the different effects of noise, it is not easy to consider the difference between the combined effects of noise and air pollution (often both appear at the same time).

Andreas Cilicis, a health service scientist at King’s College London, UK, said that due to the subjective nature of different individuals, the consequences of environmental noise are difficult to assess and analyze. It is reported that his focus is on the hospital’s intensive care unit. Depending on the patient’s physical condition, the ringing of the telephone and the clinking of dishes in the intensive care unit may have a certain comforting effect, but it may also have a counterproductive effect on the recovery of the patient, he said : “We have been trying to distinguish between decibel level and noise perception, but it is too difficult to distinguish between the two.”

Although there are still many problems, people are increasingly aware of noise pollution and decline in physical health. In 2018, a report from the World Health Organization pointed out that on average, residents in western Europe reduced their cumulative healthy life expectancy by 1.6 million years due to traffic noise each year. This calculation is based on the number of premature deaths directly caused by noise exposure. , And statistics on the number of years of disability or patients due to noise.

In fact, traffic noise is more harmful to humans, and the health life span of residents due to noise may increase. According to United Nations statistics, in 2018, 55% of residents lived in cities. It is estimated that 70% of residents will live in cities by 2050.

Some governments are very concerned about public protests against environmental noise. By implementing night flight bans, encouraging the installation of silent devices in residential houses, and imposing fines on noise complaints, they try to calm the noise and noise in the city. You can add windows or hang noise-reducing curtains to ensure that the bedroom is as quiet as possible. If the economy can afford it, you can also relocate to a quieter community. Basne said that a more economical solution is to wear earplugs to sleep at night, or to change the bedroom to a quieter room indoors. I think people should take these measures even if they find that they are not disturbed by noise. If you live in the bustling Manhattan, you will not notice how noisy it is after a while, because it is normal, but if you are psychologically used to it, it does not mean that it will not have a negative impact on health . (Ye Qingcheng)