Objectives Studies on the health effects of aircraft and road traffic noise exposure suggest excess risks of hypertension, cardiovascular disease and the use of sedatives and hypnotics. Our aim was to assess the use of medication in relation to noise from aircraft and road traffic.
Methods This cross-sectional study measured the use of prescribed antihypertensives, antacids, anxiolytics, hypnotics, antidepressants and antasthmatics in 4,861 persons living near seven airports in six European countries (UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Italy, and Greece). Exposure was assessed using models with 1dB resolution (5dB for UK road traffic noise) and spatial resolution of 250×250m for aircraft and 10×10m for road traffic noise. Data were analysed using multilevel logistic regression, adjusting for potential confounders.
Results We found marked differences between countries in the effect of aircraft noise on antihypertensive use; for night-time aircraft noise, a 10dB increase in exposure was associated with ORs of 1.34 (95% CI 1.14 to1.57) for the UK and 1.19 (1.02 to 1.38) for the Netherlands but no significant associations were found for other countries. For day-time aircraft noise, excess risks were found for the UK (OR 1.35; CI: 1.13 to 1.60) but a risk deficit for Italy (OR 0.82; CI: 0.71 to 0.96). There was an excess risk of taking anxiolytic medication in relation to aircraft noise (OR 1.28; CI: 1.04 to 1.57 for daytime and OR 1.27; CI: 1.01 to 1.59 for night-time) which held across countries. We also found an association between exposure to 24hr road traffic noise and the use of antacids by men (OR 1.39; CI 1.11 to 1.74).
Conclusion Our results suggest an effect of aircraft noise on the use of antihypertensive medication, but this effect did not hold for all countries. Results were more consistent across countries for the increased use of anxiolytics in relation to aircraft noise.
- cross sectional studies
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Other members of the HYENA study team are: Joy Read, Yvonne Tan, Yousouf Soogun, Marie-Louise Dudley, Pauline Savigny, Ingeburg Seiffert, Gabriele Wölke, Wim Swart, Jessica Kwekkeboom, Gösta Bluhm, Töres Theorell, Birgitta Ohlander, Eva Thunberg, Konstantina Dimakopoulou, Panayota Sourtzi, Elli Davou, Yannis Zahos, Ageliki Athanasopoulou, Federica Mathis, Claudia Preti, Raffaella Martinez, Domenico Bonarrigo, Maria Paola Ceriani, Giorgio Barbaglia, Alessandro Borgini and Matteo Giampaolo.
Funding HYENA was funded by a grant from the European Commission (Directorate General Research) in the Fifth Framework Programme, Quality of Life and Management of Living Resources, Key Action 4 - Environment and Health (grant QLRT-2001-02501). Other funding bodies are the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) for a PhD studentship for Sarah Floud (grant ES/F038763/1), the UK Medical Research Council and Health Protection Agency for the work of Anna Hansell and Marta Blangiardo, and the Dutch Ministries of Housing, Spatial Planning and Environment and of Transport, Public Works and Water Management for the work of Danny Houthuijs and Oscar Breugelmans. The funders had no role in the study design; in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; in the writing of the article; and in the decision to submit the article for publication.
Competing interests None.
Ethics approval The research undertaken by each of the HYENA partners was covered by local agreements concerning the ethical use of data and the protection of confidentiality of individuals. Ethics approvals have been obtained in all partner countries.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.