Fidest – Agenzia giornalistica/press agency

Quotidiano di informazione – Anno 31 n° 344

To protect people’s health from night noise pollution

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 10 ottobre 2009

Today, the WHO Regional Office for Europe launches its Night noise guidelines for Europe.[1] The book provides ground-breaking evidence on how exposure to night noise can damage people’s health, and recommends guideline levels to protect health. The new limit is an annual average night exposure not exceeding 40 decibels (dB). Sleepers that are exposed to higher levels over the year, corresponding to the sound from a quiet street in a residential area, can suffer mild health effects, such as sleep disturbance and insomnia. Long-term average exposure to levels above 55 dB, similar to the noise from a busy street, can trigger elevated blood pressure and heart attacks. One in five Europeans is regularly exposed to such noise levels. “Noise has emerged as the leading environmental nuisance in Europe, and excessive noise is an increasingly common public complaint. The new guidelines will help countries to recognize and address the issues surrounding noise and health,” says Dr Srdan Matic, Unit Head, Noncommunicable Diseases and Environment at the WHO Regional Office for Europe. “Based on a six-year expert evaluation of scientific evidence in Europe, now governments have stronger justifications for regulating exposure to night noise, and clear guidance on what these limits should be.” Thirty-five scientists from medical and acoustical disciplines, and key partners such as the European Commission, were involved in developing the guidelines. Recent research clearly links exposure to night noise with harm to health. Noise can aggravate serious health problems, beyond damage to hearing, particularly through its effects on sleep and the relations between sleep and health. When people are asleep, their ears, brains and bodies continue to react to sounds. Sleep disturbance and annoyance are the first effects of night noise and can lead to mental disorders.  The effects of noise can even trigger premature illness and death. Night noise from aircraft can increase blood pressure, even if it does not wake people. Noise is likely to be more harmful when people are trying to fall asleep and awaken. Recent studies show that aircraft noise in the early morning is the most harmful in increasing the heart rate.

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