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Year : 2011  |  Volume : 13  |  Issue : 52  |  Page : 205--211

Cardiovascular effects of environmental noise: Research in Germany


Brandenburg State Office of Environment, Health, and Consumer Protection, Seeburger Chaussee 2, 14476 Potsdam, OT Groß Glienicke, Germany

Correspondence Address:
Christian Maschke
Brandenburg State Office of Environment, Health, and Consumer Protection, Seeburger Chaussee 2, 14476 Potsdam, OT Groß Glienicke
Germany
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/1463-1741.80150

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Research on systematic noise effects started in Germany back in the fifties with basic experimental studies on humans. As a result, noise was classified as a non-specific stressor, which could cause an ergotropic activation of the complete organism. In the light of this background research a hypothesis was proposed that long-term noise exposure could have an adverse effect on health. This hypothesis was further supported by animal studies. Since the sixties, the adverse effects of chronic road traffic noise exposure were further examined in humans with the help of epidemiological studies. More epidemiological aircraft noise studies followed in the 1970s and thereafter. The sample size was increased, relevant confounding factors were taken into account, and the exposure and health outcomes were investigated objectively and with higher quality measures. To date, more than 20 German epidemiological traffic noise studies have focused on noise-induced health effects, mainly on the cardiovascular system. In particular, the newer German noise studies demonstrate a clear association between residential exposure to traffic noise (particularly night noise) and cardiovascular outcomes. Nevertheless, additional research is needed, particularly on vulnerable groups and multiple noise exposures. The epidemiological findings have still not been fully considered in German regulations, particularly for aircraft noise. The findings, however, were taken into account in national recommendations. The Federal Environment Agency recommends noise rating levels of 65 dB(A) for the day and 55 dB(A) for the night, as a short-term goal. In the medium term, noise rating levels of 60 / 50 (day, night) should be reached and noise rating levels of 55 / 45 in the long run.






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