BERN, Switzerland, Oct. 12 (UPI) — People living under airport flight paths and exposed to aircraft noise are at higher risk for heart attacks, a Swiss study says.
Other studies have linked negative health effects to living near flight paths and noisy roads, but the study could confirm whether sound, and not other factors like air pollution, is the main culprit Britain’s Daily Telegraph reported Monday.
“It’s been a problem that when you look at road traffic noise there are both high levels of noise and high levels of air pollution,” researcher Matthias Egger of the University of Bern said. “By looking at airports we were in a position to disentangle these effects.”
Egger and his team, using data from an ongoing mortality study called the Swiss National Cohort, studied 15,532 heart attack deaths among 4.6 million Swiss residents between late 2000 and the end of 2005.
Government records allowed researchers to determine the distance of individuals’ residences from airports and major roads, as well as relative levels of air pollution.
After factoring out air pollution and other data including education and income levels, they found both the level and duration of aircraft noise increased the risk of a heart attack.
People whose daily average exposure was at least 60 decibels had a 30 per cent greater risk of having a heart attack compared with those exposed to less than 45 decibels, the study found.
“Noise probably does have effects on health and it is important that we gain a better understanding of these,” Egger said.
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