Noisy workplace linked to heart disease: study

Source: Safety & Health, January 2011

Vancouver, British Columbia – Chronic exposure to workplace noise may double an employee’s risk of serious heart disease, indicates research from the University of British Columbia.

According to a study abstract published online Oct. 5 in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, researchers conducted interviews and medical tests with more than 6,000 participants of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2004.

Participants were divided into two groups: people who endured persistent loud noise for at least three months and those who did not.  Employees who worked in noisy workplaces were 2 to 3 times more likely to have serious heart problems than their counterparts in quiet workplaces, the abstract said.

Researchers suggested loud noise may cause as much stress as sudden emotion or physical exertion, which prompt chemical responses that constrict blood flow to the coronary arteries.

One out of every 5 workers reported being exposed to workplace noise for an average of almost nine months in a row, according to a press release from BMJ Group, publisher of the journal the research appeared in.  Those participants with an average age of 40, were mostly male and tended to weigh and smoke more – two risk factors for heart disease – than employees in quieter workplaces.

“This study suggests that excess noise exposure in the workplace is an important occupational health issue and deserves special attention,” researchers said in the release.

Read the abstract at www.nsc.org/plus.