In the past, studies have highlighted the link between living near an airport and interference with sleep, sleep-disordered breathing, nervousness, annoyance and hypertension. However, two new studies are now suggesting living near an airport may be associated with increased risk of hospitalization for cardiovascular disease. The studies were both published online in BMJ.
The first study, conducted by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health, looked at individuals 65 and older who lived in zip codes near one of 89 US airports, where exposure to aircraft noise was increased by 10 decibels (dB). They evaluated approximately six-million people, culled from Medicare rolls. They found that living in these locations was associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular hospitalization of 3.4 percent. Researchers also reported that these findings were only significant at noise levels higher than 55 dB.
The second study, conducted by researchers from Imperial College London, examined data from about 3.6 million individuals living near Heathrow airport in London. They found that living in an area with the highest levels of exposure to aircraft noise versus the lowest level was associated with approximately a 15-25 percent greater risk of hospitalization for stroke, coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease.
According to an editorial by Dr. Stephen Stansfeld of Queen Mary University of London, These studies provide preliminary evidence that aircraft noise exposure is not just a cause of annoyance , sleep disturbance, and reduced quality of life but may also increase morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular disease ¦Planners need to take this into account when expanding airports in heavily populated areas or planning new airports.