High noise levels can make people annoyed

Many people are at risk of becoming highly annoyed due to noise pollution. This is the suggestion of new research published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, which found the sound of road traffic is contributing to sleep disturbance in urban areas.

James Holt of the Epidemiology and Surveillance Branch at the Division of Population Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, noted such exposure can pose significant health problems.

The study suggested individuals subjected to high levels of noise pollution can become increasingly annoyed and irritated as a result.

Mr Holt observed noise at night can hinder sleep quality and make a person more tired in the morning, adding: "Long-term exposure to noise could increase the risks of heart attack and high blood pressure."

According to the research, 9.5 per cent of the population in the US are at risk of high annoyance from noise pollution.

Tom Stewart, Chartered Psychologist and founder of System Concepts, comments:

"This research confirms that although we can and do habituate to noise, its negative effects continue. It’s a common experience that we suddenly notice how noisy something is when it is switched off. However, our bodies activation and arousal levels appear to respond to the actual noise level, whether or not we have habituated. 'Getting used to it' might reduce the apparent effects but as this research shows, the negative effects remain.  Lack of sleep certainly causes irritableness and stress – ask any recent parent!"