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Road traffic Noise Contributes to Sleep Disturbance and Annoyance

Update Date: Sep 11, 2012 07:25 AM EDT

A new study suggests that high levels of noise pollution could cause annoyance or sleep disturbance, leading to severe health consequences.

The study has been conducted by researchers from Fulton County, Georgia.

"Our research estimated that the percentage of the overall populations at risk of high annoyance is 9.5 percent, and highly disturbed sleep at 2.3 percent," says co-investigator James B. Holt, PhD, of the Epidemiology and Surveillance Branch, Division of Population Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA.

"Long-term exposure to noise could increase the risks of heart attack and high blood pressure. Nighttime noise can reduce sleep quality and increase morning tiredness and insomnia."

For the study, researchers gathered numerous data sets to estimate road traffic noise exposure levels, including topographical information, vehicle volume and speed, and the mix of vehicle types, the press release stated.

The researchers calculated metrics to determine the probability under which some areas of the population, exposed to certain levels of road traffic noise, would be highly annoyed or have high levels of sleep disturbance, at a certain point.

It was found that people from the cities Atlanta, Sandy Springs, and Alpharetta, contributed to 79% of the highly annoyed people in Fulton County due to noise.

The cities: Atlanta, Sandy Springs, and Roswell not only contributed to 78% of sleep disturbance, but also had the highest population.

In a U.S. Census Bureau survey, the city of Atlanta had the lowest percentage of households among 38 metropolitan areas reporting the presence of road traffic noise, Medical Xpress reported.

"It may be assumed that even more people would be affected in other densely populated areas of the U.S.," Dr. Holt noted.

Further, Dr. Holt suggested that there is still a need of further research to determine the severity with which road traffic affects US urban communities.

"We believe it is time to begin extensive traffic-related noise research and establish up-to-date policies to control and abate noise problems for our communities," he says.

"Adequate restful sleep and mental well-being are as essential to good health as adequate nutrition and physical activity. Assessing and alleviating environmental noise is an essential element for improving or creating healthy communities where adults and children can play, work, and live."

The research is published in the October issue of American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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