A new study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has found that 2.3 percent of people in Fulton County, Ga., where the city of Atlanta is, are exposed to significant levels of highway noise that can disrupt sleep. Extrapolated to other urban areas, this research suggests that rates of such sleep disturbances could be very high in the U.S – and annoyance and sleep disruption from road traffic noise have been connected to health problems such as heart attacks and hypertension.

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The study appears in the October 2012 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine under the title “Road Traffic Noise: Annoyance, Sleep Disturbance, and Public Health Implications,” by Minho Kim and colleagues. Researchers studied traffic noise levels in Fulton Country during 2009 to 2011 and predicted that “109,967 people would be at risk of being highly annoyed, with 19,621 people at risk for high sleep disturbance” in the county.

The study’s authors concluded that: “These results, if generalized to other urban areas with high levels of road traffic, indicate that it may be important for the public’s health to update existing noise-related policies or develop new ones to control and abate noise concerns in urban communities.

+ American Journal of Preventive Medicine

Photo credit: Brett Weinstein, CC BY-SA 2.0)