Can Noise Pollution Be Deadly?


If people who live in cities worry about anything it’s usually air pollution. While companies are doing their bit to combat this through things like using equipment such as a thermal oxidizer, air pollution isn’t the only thing to worry about. What about noise pollution? It may seem fun living in a city, where there is something constantly happening daily, but until you realise the effect noise pollution can have on you and others, it can become an issue. There are many ways in which this can be reduced, like going through the procedure of having acoustic wall panels installed in areas that witness the most noise pollution.

While studies have linked noise pollution to hypertension there was limited evidence that noise is linked to actual mortality. Until now.

The Study:

The study measured daytime and nighttime traffic noise across the city of London. The researchers then compared the noise data to hospital admissions and mortality rates for 8.6 million residents.


The researchers found that median exposure to daytime traffic noise was 55 dB Traffic noise of greater than 60 dB was associated with a 5% increase in hospital admission for stroke in adults and a 9% increase in the elderly (75 or older). Daytime noise was also associated with a 4% increase in all-cause mortality. The results stood after adjusting for age, sex, area-level socioeconomic deprivation, ethnicity, smoking, air pollution, and neighborhood spatial structure. With these percentages, it is easy to see why some will want to move to quieter areas that can reduce the risk of stress within their body. Having elderly people move to assisted living in Lincoln NE or in more rural places, could be beneficial in the long run, but only time will tell.

Why does noise matter? Here’s what the researchers had to say:

Exposure to noise may affect the autonomic nervous system increasing heart rate, blood pressure, and concentrations of noradrenaline, a stress hormone. Noise can also affect the hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenal axis leading to increased levels of cortisol, another stress hormone. In the long term, these reactions are suggested to promote low-grade inflammation and cardiovascular morbidity. Another suggested pathway is via sleep disorders some of which have been linked to an increased risk of mortality.


Noise can have a modest, but noteworthy impact on your health. So next time you’re looking to move, aim for quieter parts of town. Also, another study found that it wasn’t so much noise level, as the difference in peak dB from the baseline noise level. So using a fan, white noise or earplugs could lessen the harmful impact.


Halonen, Jaana I., et al. “Road traffic noise is associated with increased cardiovascular morbidity and mortality and all-cause mortality in London.”European heart journal (2015): ehv216.

Stanchina, Michael L., et al. “The influence of white noise on sleep in subjects exposed to ICU noise.” Sleep medicine6.5 (2005): 423-428.