Skip links

City Noise is Detrimental to The Health of Metropolitans

For those living in cities, noise is one of the main environmental stressors on physical and mental health. And long-term exposure to noise is a huge burden on public health services. In Western Europe, at least one million healthy years of life are lost due to traffic-related noise. And it is projected to continue rising.Therefore, research in city noise and its effects on our health is important.

Noise in our environment, mainly coming from road traffic, but also from railway, airports, or construction, is an integral part of our daily life in cities, which has a profound impact on our daily life, interrupting our work, rest, and sleep. Interest and research in health effect of noise is just emerging, in contrast to many more decades on research on health effects of air pollution.    

We have in a number of our studies showed that exposure to road traffic noise in Denmark has a substantial consequence on our health: It increases risk of major heart diseases, such as myocardial infarction, atrial fibrillation, and heart failure, as well as diabetes. Furthermore, in our latest study, we found that persistent exposure to noise shortens our life and leads to premature mortality. We also present novel and interesting finding that it is not only cardio metabolic diseases that are associated to noise, but also psychological diseases, dementia, and even respiratory infections that are related to noise exposure.

All photos: Branislav Nenin

Below are some interesting research form the University of Copenhagen.

In ‘Long-term exposure to road traffic noise and all-cause and cause-specific mortality: a Danish Nurse Cohort study’ researchers conclude, that long-term exposure to road traffic noise is associated with all-cause mortality, as well as suggestively so for mortality due to cardio- and cerebrovascular disease (stroke) and diabetes, independently from air pollution. Road traffic noise was more strongly associated with all-cause mortality, and mortality caused specifically by psychiatric disorders, respiratory diseases, and all cancers when using a 23-year compared to a 5-year exposure mean. Their findings suggest that the adverse effects of noise vastly extend beyond those of the cardiometabolic system, and that effects may be strengthened with prolonged exposure, which calls for further research and possible regulation.

In ‘Longterm exposure to road traffic noise and stroke incidence: a Danish Nurse Cohort study’ the researcher conclude that long‐term exposure to road traffic noise among Danish nurses aged 44-years and older was suggestively positively associated with the risk of overall stroke. Yet there was no association after adjusting for air pollution. This attenuation could be explained by potential exposure misclassification, leading to inconclusive results, however is not necessarily proof of absence of effect of noise on stroke.

In ‘Long-term exposure to road traffic noise and incident myocardial infarction (MI)’ the researchers concludes:  In this prospective cohort study of 22,378 Danish female nurses >44 years of age, we observed a nonlinear relationship between road traffic noise and incident myocardial infarcation, MI. In particular, the associations of 23-year exposure to road traffic noise with incident MI were observed at levels above 56 dB, independent of air pollution. Our study findings strengthen the evidence base showing that road traffic noise is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and demonstrates the need to regulate road traffic noise in addition to ambient pollution concentrations.

In ‘Long-Term Exposure to Road Traffic Noise and Air Pollution, and Incident Atrial Fibrillation (AF) in the Danish Nurse Cohort,’ researchers state that associations between long-term exposure to air pollution and road traffic noise have been established for ischemic heart disease, but findings have been mixed for atrial fibrillation. Conclusion: Our analysis of prospective data from a cohort of Danish female nurses followed for up to 14 years provided suggestive evidence of independent associations between incident AF and 1- and 3-year exposures to road traffic noise. Find it here or here:

In ‘Long-Term Exposure to Road Traffic Noise and Incidence of Diabetes in the Danish Nurse Cohort,‘ researchers conclude: In the nationwide cohort of Danish nurses 44 years of age and older, we found no association between long-term exposure to road traffic noise and diabetes incidence, but found suggestive evidence of an association limited to urban areas. Find it here, or download here: