Thousands of preventable deaths
Building on previous research on the link between noise and mortality by heart disease, the researchers estimated that adherence to WHO guidelines could prevent more than 3,600 deaths each year from ischaemic heart disease alone.
“We are convinced that the true health impact of traffic noise is much greater, as we suspect that adverse effects occur even at levels below the WHO threshold” says Sasha Khomenko, lead author of the study.
The authors warn that the quality of the noise maps varies greatly between cities and cannot be directly compared. But, Nieuwenhuijsen points out, “the results provide, for the first time, a comprehensive picture of noise in European cities.”
The study is part of the European Urban Burden of Disease Project, which has already produced rankings of mortality associated with air pollution and green space in around 1,000 European cities.
Photo: Francesco Zivolli