Workplace Noise Exposure Linked To High Blood Pressure, Cholesterol

Big cities are loud. This is an inescapable fact of modern society, as the din of cars, trains, construction, events and all other sources of everyday noise rings through millions of ears on a daily basis.

However, exposure to unwanted noise is more than just unpleasant; it’s unhealthy. A recent study conducted by the Center for Disease Control found that a huge number of Americans are at increased risk for certain health issues just by virtue of working in loud environments.

A Twitter Moment published Tuesday also documented many of the potential hazards and solutions to noise pollution.

The study was carried out by researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, a division of the CDC devoted to studying health risks in the workplace. It was published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine on March 14.

Constant exposure to high-volume racket can obviously contributes to hearing loss. The CDC recommended earplugs, turning down the volume on music and TV and other simple measures to reduce that risk. The other, less-discussed concern addressed by the study was the link between noise pollution and heart disease and high cholesterol.

NIOSH found that 41 million people, or approximately 25 percent of the American workforce, reported noise exposure in their jobs. The organization also found correlations between occupational noise and hearing loss, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. The latter two are considered risk factors for heart disease, which kills more Americans than anything else.

Note that the CDC did not recommend workplaces be entirely silent; the organization tweeted that noise is only a hazard if it measures at 85 decibels or higher.

Though it is not traditionally thought of in the same way as air or water pollution, noise pollution is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency all the same. In 2015, the New Yorker published extremely detailed data on the what kinds of noises residents of the Big Apple complained about the most and which neighborhoods were the loudest.

Loud music won the competition handily, with 37 percent of all noise complaints coming from New Yorkers just wanting kids to lower the volume. By a fairly wide margin, Midtown Manhattan was statistically the loudest place in the city.

GettyImages-1714479 Noise pollution, especially in the workplace, might increase the risk of heart disease, according to a recent CDC study. Pictured above is New York City’s noisy Times Square in 2003. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

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