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Nighttime aircraft noise exposure: flying towards arterial disease

Marietta Charakida, John E. Deanfield
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/eurheartj/eht339 3472-3474 First published online: 28 August 2013

This editorial refers to ‘Effect of nighttime aircraft noise exposure on endothelial function and stress hormone release in healthy adults’, by F.P. Schmidt et al., on page 3508

Over the last four decades there has been a steady increase in air travel worldwide. The global air transport network has contributed to the growth of economies by providing better access to national and international resources, increasing tourism, encouraging investment and innovation, and improving business operations and efficiency. Air transport also offers a vital lifeline to remote communities and rapid worldwide support during emergency situations. However, along with these benefits, detrimental effects linked to the expanding air network have been recognized.

There are increasing data to suggest that air pollution and noise from airplanes have significant environmental and cardiovascular implications. Air pollutants have been associated with climate changes and increased hospitalization and mortality due to cardiovascular disease in high risk populations.1 In parallel, auditory impairment as a result of the direct effects of sound energy has been well recognized. As a result, protective legislation requiring hearing protectors to be worn by those working in close proximity is currently in place.2 However, the indirect effect of noise on human health remains an area of active research.

Evidence for an adverse effect on public health for aircraft noise exposure, in particular during night-time, has strengthened recently as results from epidemiological community studies have become available.3 At night, cerebral function recovers from the rigours of daytime activities and key brain processes are restored. Aircraft noise has been associated with sleep fragmentation and an increase in stress hormone levels, and concerns have …

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