“The new data indicate that noise pollution is causing more deaths from heart disease than was previously thought,” says working group member Deepak Prasher, a professor of audiology at University College in London—perhaps hundreds of thousands around the world. “Until now, the burden of disease related to the general population’s exposure to environmental noise has rarely been estimated in nonoccupational settings at the international level.”
The separate noise-related working group first convened in 2003 and began sifting through data from studies in European countries to derive preliminary estimates of the impact of noise on the entire population of Europe. They then sought to separate the noise-related health effects from those of traffic-related air pollution and other confounding factors such as physical inactivity and smoking. In 2007, the group published Quantifying Burden of Disease from Environmental Noise, their preliminary findings on the health-related effects of noise for Europeans. Their conclusion: about 2% of Europeans suffer severely disturbed sleep, and 15% suffer severe annoyance due to environmental noise, defined as community noise emitted from sources such as road traffic, trains, and aircraft.