We’ve heard about the risks of cars. They pollute the air and can crash into each other, which is dangerous and obviously unhealthy. New research shows cars may be killing us by making too much noise, too.
The research comes from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and claims that noise disturbances from cars, like exhaust, horns and sirens, could pose serious health risks for people, via The Washington Post:
The authors, who examined research on noise pollution and heart disease, say that loud sounds not only disrupt sleep, which can lead to health problems, but can also ignite the stress response, releasing a rush of hormones that, over time, can damage the heart.
“Ten years ago, people were saying that noise is just annoying, but now I think there’s considerable evidence that noise makes you sick, and one of the predominate diseases is cardiovascular disease,” lead author Thomas Münzel said Tuesday in a phone interview with The Washington Post.
While the noise disturbances are not a direct cause of heart disease, the research suggests noise pollution should be categorized as a risk factor, like high cholesterol and obesity. Münzel told ABC News that shocking or surprising noises can cause the release of stress hormones in the body, and that anything over 60 decibels can increase risk for heart disease. ABC News reported that a car measures at 70 decibels.
Here’s more detail from The Post:
[Mayo Clinic’s Steve Kopecky] said there are several ways that response can lead to damage: The rush of hormones causes the arteries to constrict, which can damage the lining of the arteries and lead to heart disease. It can also raise blood pressure or make the blood more likely to clot, which is a problem with heart attacks.
The researchers suggest using a white noise machine to drown out distractions during sleep, but said the major solutions will have to come from lawmakers cracking down on noise pollution.
I’m sure there are many of us that would associate stress relating to our cars from more than just the noise they make, but its worrying to know that there’s now a lot of research to back up noise pollution as a serious risk factor.