How noise pollution affects your health: Study links aircraft noise with hypertension and organ damage

A 2016 study has linked the development of hypertension and organ damage with aircraft noise. According to the official press release by the European Society of Cardiology, Polish researchers found that people who were living close to airports for three years or more have an increased risk of high blood pressure.

To come to this conclusion, the researchers randomly selected 201 adults between the ages of 40 and 66. All of the participants had to have lived in areas with low or high aircraft noise for at least three years. They were then divided into two groups based on the amount of aircraft noise they were exposed to: the first group consisted of 100 participants who were subjected to less than 55 decibels (dB) or aircraft noise on average. The second group of 101 participants were exposed to at least 60 dB.

The researchers then paired up participants based on their age, sex, and the length of time spent living in the area. Each participant had their blood pressure measured. Through this, the researchers discovered that 40 percent of the participants from the second group had hypertension. Conversely, only 24 percent of those from the first group had this condition. Of those from the second group who had hypertension, they were found to have higher systolic (146 against 138 millimeter of mercury or mmHg) and diastolic (89 against 79 mmHg) blood pressure.

Moreover, the researchers found that the group who lived near high aircraft noise showed signs of higher left ventricular masses and stiffer aortas. These were noted as being indicative of asymptomatic organ damage. According to, aortic stiffness can raise the likelihood of hypertension and is considered a marker of risk for heart disease.

Marta Rojek, Jagiellonian University Medical College researcher and study co-author, said of the results: “Our results suggest that living near an airport for three years or more is associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure and hypertension. These changes may then lead to damage of the aorta and heart which could increase the risk of having a heart attack.”

Following this, Rojek suggested that more effort be put into the management of aircraft noise. “European Union regulations say that countries must assess and manage environmental noise, and there are national laws on aircraft noise. Poland stipulates a maximum of 55 dB around schools and hospitals and 60 dB for other areas. Noise can be kept below those levels by using only noise-certified aircraft, redirecting flight paths, keeping airports away from homes, and avoiding night flights,” said Rojek.

She then added: “More work is needed to enforce laws on exposure to aircraft noise as it is detrimental to our health. We also need further research to understand how the damage occurs and whether it can be reversed.”

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