A new report claims that older adults who are exposed to aircraft noise could be at a greater risk of heart disease. This makes living close to an airport a bad idea, but it may also depend on how close one lives to the airport for this to be a real issue.
According to a Reuters report, 3.6 million people who lived near Heathrow Airport were exposed to 10-20% higher risk of strokes and other heart diseases than those who lived in neighborhoods with least noise.
However, the team behind this finding has agreed with other experts that noise is not necessarily to blame and that more work was needed to have a complete idea of what is really going on.
Meanwhile, Harvard School of Public Health and Boston University School of Public Health researchers have looked into data of more than 6 million American citizens aged 65 or over living near 89 airports in the U.S. back in 2009.
The research shows that zip codes with 10-decibel higher aircraft sound had a 3.5 percent greater cardiovascular hospital admittance rate. The outcomes indicated that people open to the uppermost noise levels, more than 55 dB, had the strongest link with hospitalizations for heart illness, and the link also remained after adjustment for air pollution, proximity roads, demographic factors and socioeconomic status.
According to researchers, the noise may trigger a stress hormone response, which has the ability to raise blood pressure along with disturbing people's sleeping habits. The researchers have called for further investigation, particularly into night flights where things could be even worse.
The findings were published in the British Medical Journal in the midst of controversy over expanding Heathrow and other airports to upturn UK flight volume. The plan to expand airports in the UK has been around for several decades, so one should not expect the UK government to put a stop order on its plan now.
"The exact role that noise exposure may play in ill health is not well established," said Anna Hansell of Imperial College London to Reuters, who led the British study. "However, it is plausible that it might be contributing, for example by raising blood pressure or by disturbing people's sleep."
We're not sure what to think of this finding. What we do know is that if it turns out to be conclusive, the UK government might have to dig deep to relocate citizens living near airports around the country. Furthermore, it could also push aircraft makers to focus more on coming up with an aircraft that makes little to no noise to help with the health of citizens who might be affected by aircraft noise.