Noise: The other pollution hurting our health

Story highlights

  • Noise levels can lead to several health risks, including heart attacks
  • Children's cognition can be affected by plane noise
  • New guidelines include suggested noise levels for different noise sources, including leisure noise

(CNN)One in five Europeans is regularly exposed to noise levels that could "significantly" damage their health, the World Health Organization says, and it updated guidelines on those levels in Europe on Tuesday.

Environmental noise is among the "top environmental risks to health," according to the WHO report.
More than 100 million Europeans are affected by road traffic noise alone each year. "Noise continues to be a concern," noted Dr. Dorota Jarosińska, program manager for living and working environments at the WHO regional office for Europe.
    The new guidelines are "an important update," given the evidence and links to health problems, said Stephen Stansfeld, professor at Barts and Queen Mary University of London and chair of the Guideline Development Group, an independent organization that advised WHO on the guidelines.
    Excessive noise can affect blood pressure, hypertension and heart disease, which can lead to heart attacks and mortality from cardiovascular disease. Children's cognition and health are also affected.