Hypertension and Exposure to Noise near Airports: The HYENA Study

By Jarup, Lars; Babisch, Wolfgang et al. | Environmental Health Perspectives, March 2008 | Go to article overview

Hypertension and Exposure to Noise near Airports: The HYENA Study


Jarup, Lars, Babisch, Wolfgang, Houthuijs, Danny, Pershagen, Goran, Katsouyanni, Klea, Cadum, Ennio, Dudley, Marie-Louise, Savigny, Pauline, Seiffert, Ingeburg, Swart, Wim, Breugelmans, Oscar, Bluhm, Gosta, Selander, Jenny, Haralabidis, Alexandros, Dimakopoulou, Konstantina, Sourtzi, Panayota, Velonakis, Manolis, Vigna-Taglianti, Federica, Environmental Health Perspectives


BACKGROUND: An increasing number of people are exposed to aircraft and road traffic noise. Hypertension is an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and even a small contribution in risk from environmental factors may have a major impact on public health.

OBJECTIVES: The HYENA (Hypertension and Exposure to Noise near Airports) study aimed to assess the relations between noise from aircraft or road traffic near airports and the risk of hypertension.

METHODS: We measured blood pressure and collected data on health, socioeconomic, and lifestyle factors, including diet and physical activity, via questionnaire at home visits for 4,861 persons 45-70 years of age, who had lived at least 5 years near any of six major European airports. We assessed noise exposure using detailed models with a resolution of 1 dB (5 dB for United Kingdom road traffic noise), and a spatial resolution of 250 X 250 m for aircraft and 10 X 10 m for road traffic noise.

RESULTS: We found significant exposure--response relationships between night-time aircraft as well as average daily road traffic noise exposure and risk of hypertension after adjustment for major confounders. For night-time aircraft noise, a 10-dB increase in exposure was associated with an odds ratio (OR) of 1.14 [95% confidence interval (CI), 1.01-1.29]. The exposure--response relationships were similar for road traffic noise and stronger for men with an OR of 1.54 (95% CI, 0.99-2.40) in the highest exposure category (> 65 dB; Ptrend = 0.008).

CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicate excess risks of hypertension related to long-term noise exposure, primarily for night-time aircraft noise and daily average road traffic noise.

KEY WORDS: aircraft, blood pressure, hypertension, noise, road traffic. Environ Health Prespect 116:329-333 (2008). doi: 10.1289/ehp. 10775 available via http://dx.doi.org/ [Online 11 December 2007]

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Air traffic continues to increase worldwide, and recent forecasts by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) predict an average annual growth in the number of air passengers of 4.3% until 2015. As a consequence, the airspace is becoming more crowded, particularly in the vicinity of airports, and pollution increases from noise and aircraft exhaust emissions as well as from the associated road traffic.

Hypertension is a major risk factor for coronary heart disease and stroke (Stamler 1992). Recent studies indicate that noise exposure may cause hypertension, but few investigators have studied health effects associated with exposure to aircraft noise (Babisch 2006; van Kempen et al. 2002). Studies carried out around Schiphol (Amsterdam, the Netherlands) Airport in the 1970s showed excess risks of hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases in subjects exposed to high levels of aircraft noise (Knipschild 1977). In a recent study around the same airport, only a slight increase [odds ratio (OR) = 1.2] of self-reported use of cardiovascular drugs was found (Franssen et al. 2004). A Swedish crossectional study indicated an exposure--response relation between residential aircraft noise exposure and self-reported (diagnosed by a physician) hypertension (Rosenlund et al. 2001). In a Japanese study near a military air base, there was an exposure--response relationship between aircraft noise and prevalence of hypertension (Matsui et al. 2004).

Noise from road traffic has also been associated with self-reported doctor-diagnosed hypertension (Bluhm et al. 2007) or measured high blood pressure (BP) (Herbold et al. 1989). However, negative results have also been reported (Yoshida et al. 1997). It has been hypothesized that persistent exposure to environmental noise could result in permanent vascular changes, with increased BP and ischemic heart disease as potential outcomes (Stansfeld and Matheson 2003).

The overall evidence suggests that a weak association may exist between long-term noise exposure and hypertension (Babisch 2000; Berglund and Lindvall 1995; Berglund et al. …

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