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Car traffic noise increases risk of tinnitus

Noise pollution from car traffic increases the risk of tinnitus

As households face greater noise pollution from automobile traffic, the risk of problems with tinnitus increases. This is according to a study by scientists at Syddansk University (SDU), based on a survey of 3.5 million Danes. This is the first time researchers have found a link between a home’s exposure to traffic noise and hearing problems.

Why is this important?

Noise pollution from automobile traffic appears to pose several public health hazards. Scholars therefore call for policies, including urban planning, to pay greater attention to the problem.

All sorts of health problems.

The researchers say they found more than 40,000 cases of tinnitus. “Every 10-decibel increase in noise in the home increases the risk of developing tinnitus by 6 percent,” argue researchers Manuella Lech Cantuaria and Jesper Hvass Schmidt.

Danish scientists say they are particularly concerned about the many health problems that seem to be caused by traffic noise. Two years ago, they also found a link between traffic noise and dementia.

“More attention needs to be paid to the importance of traffic noise to health,” the researchers pitch. “Alarmingly, noise appears to increase the risk of tinnitus, cardiovascular disease and dementia, among others.”

“In specialized hearing clinics, it can be determined whether patients actually suffer from tinnitus,” Cantuaria and Schmidt said. “But only the worst cases are referred to those affected by their own doctor or an otorhinolaryngologist. The large number of reported cases of tinnitus is probably just the tip of the iceberg.”

“In general, about 10 percent of the population suffers from tinnitus from time to time. The problem is associated with stress and sleep problems, which can be exacerbated by traffic noise.

“Further research will need to be conducted to know for sure whether tinnitus is caused by traffic noise and in what way that process occurs. However, we know that traffic noise can cause stress in humans and affect sleep. It has also already been shown that tinnitus can be exacerbated by stress and sleep disturbances.”

Health risk.

Danish researchers suggest that nighttime noise may be even worse for health.

“Noise pollution affects our sleep, which is so important for restoring both our physical and mental health,” Cantuaria and Schmidt pitch. “Therefore, for households living near a busy road, it is definitely worth considering the possibility of improving sleep quality.”

Among other things, it is suggested that the bedroom be set up on the side of the house farthest from the road. Soundproof windows could also prove a help.

“However, not everyone has those opportunities,” Cantuaria and Schmidt know. “It is therefore necessary that traffic noise be considered as a health risk that must be taken into account the in urban planning and other political decisions.”

Guideline level for harmful traffic noise is 58 decibels.

The Danish guideline level for harmful traffic noise is 58 decibels. It is estimated that 1.4 million Danes are exposed to noise in their homes that exceeds this level. The researchers further point out that it would be wrong to assume that the problem could be solved by the switch to electric cars. After all, the sound comes primarily from the contact between the tires and the road.

Installation of noise barriers.

“In Germany, additional speed limits are provided at some locations during the night so that the noise pollution from passing car traffic will disturb the night’s rest of local residents as little as possible,” the Danish scientists throw in. “Another way to reduce traffic noise is to place noise barriers along the road or install a road surface that dampens tire noise.”

[Source: Marc Horckmans – Business AM]