When I take long road trips, I always wonder when I see beautiful mansions on the side of the highway “why on Earth would anyone build such a beautiful home right there?” Well, there are more than aesthetic reasons for not building your home right next to a busy road. According to a team at Lund University in Sweden, people who live near a noisy road are at a greater risk of developing high blood pressure.
The health risk was even higher when the noise rose above an average daily exposure of 60 decibels. That accounts for about one in four people in western Europe. No comparable analysis was done on how many people would be affected in the U.S.
“Road traffic noise is the most important source of community noise so we felt it was important to look at this,” says the report’s author Theo Bodin. “I think what we have found is probably linked to the noise triggering stress. Previous research has found this, although we need to look at this issue further before we make firm conclusions.”
However, some experts think that these findings might be on shaky ground.
“It seems to me that they have found an association rather than a cause. Other factors, such as smoking, diet and deprivation, are likely to be playing more of a role,” says Alan Maryon-Davis, president of the UK’s Faculty of Public Health. “However, it is an area of research which merits further work.”
High blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.