When considering the long list of pressing public health problems, a number of examples may come to mind - air pollution, drug addiction, contaminated water. Not getting enough exercise. Maybe even too much screen time. But one issue in particular may not seem immediately obvious - a noisy environment.
It’s no secret that being around constant noise can affect our hearing - hearing loss is the number one disability in America, affecting 25 percent of the population. But scientists from the University Medical Center of the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz have shown that changes in our blood biochemistry from exposure to traffic noise can have life-threatening consequences.
It is thought that exposure to sudden loud noises triggers the release of the stress hormone cortisol, which damages blood vessels over time, leading to high blood pressure, heart attacks, and coronary heart disease.
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In a former life I worked for the environmental agency of a large US state. We did NOT regulate noise levels, and I got the impression we didn't even care.
I love peace and quiet, and both are becoming very hard to find.