It's already well-understood that living near a highway can be detrimental to your health. Air pollution from highways often occur at the highest levels within a city. But what about noise pollution? David Schultz, of NPR's Shots health blog, reports on research done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that looked at highway noise and its effects upon nearby populations.
"Curious researchers with the [CDC] wondered how many people in Fulton County, Ga., where Atlanta is the county seat, are exposed to highway noise levels that have been shown to cause sleep disturbances," reports Schultz. "The answer: about 2.3 percent of the population, or more than 21,000 people, are likely to be exposed to noise that's highly disruptive to sleep."
While further research is need to understand the connection to specific health outcomes, studies such as this may "reveal a new way to think about environmental health," says Schultz.
"There's been a recognition that the social environment is as important as is the physical environment," notes James Holt, an epidemiologist and geographer with the CDC. "Urban planners are interested in this. Public health folks will have an interest in this as well."