The Research Into Action team has just posted a new case study on KT Exchange covering our involvement in research into the non-auditory health effects of noise. Our efforts were utilized by the City of Houston to update noise laws in the fourth–largest city in the United States.
Houston is unique amongst large American cities in that there is very little zoning. Most Houstonians love the dynamic, mixed-use neighborhoods this creates, but there have been increasing calls for limits on encroaching noise from businesses located in areas that also feature residential housing.
The RIA staff, interested in the growing problem of noise pollution, conducted an extensive research review from literature published around the world and used the results to develop a technical paper summarizing the research, as well as a one-page handout suitable for both lay audiences and those specifically concerned with the non-auditory health effects of noise.
What we found surprised us. Exposure to environmental noise can cause a higher rate of cardiovascular disease, including myocardial infarctions, high blood pressure, and irregular heartbeats; it can raise cholesterol and triglyceride levels and quicken the pulse; noise-interrupted sleep can cause immunosuppression, which means that those who don’t get enough quality sleep get sick easier and for longer periods of time than those who do; children exposed to environmental noise have poorer performance in school and score lower in standardized tests; children who live or go to school near a loud noise source (such as an airport or train station or train line) also experience higher blood pressure levels, which continue into adulthood.
Clearly, loud environmental noise affects everyone. Our KT effort resulted in real changes and improved the quality of life for many Houstonians. Read all about it on our case study page here, and if you have completed similar KT efforts, let us know about them so we can include your work on KT Exchange, too!