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Increased drug use through air traffic noise
Nocturnal air traffic noise can cause illness
That is the result of an epidemiological study by Epi.Consult GmbH Bremen, commissioned by the Federal Environmental Agency of Germany. In the area surrounding a German airport with nocturnal air traffic operations the company analysed the data of more than 800,000 medically insured—that is over 40% of the total population of the region concerned.
The reasons leading to the study were, amongst others, observations by a group of medical doctors. In their offices the number of patients, who complained about psycho‑vegetative and heart troubles, irritability and diminished stamina, increased. The medical professionals suspected that these increasingly occurring diagnoses, as well as cases of hypertension, could possibly be traced to the nocturnal air traffic at the airport.
• By comparison with patients who were not exposed to nocturnal noise, the study found clearly increased prescription rates and pre-scribed quantities of certain drugs to lower blood‑pressure, for the treatment of heart and circulation ailments and depression (antidepressants), and tranquillisers.
• Diagnoses for female patients were more pronounced than those for male patients, with some applying only to women (antidepressants and tranquillisers).
• A clear correlation between intensity and time of the occurring air traffic noise was found: The highest increases in prescription rates and quantity of the various drug groups was demonstrable for those affected by nocturnal air traffic noise between 3 and 5 a.m.
The report on the research project "Detrimental Effect of Airtraffic Noise: Consumption of Medicines" is published on the Internet and available to download at <http://www.umweltdaten.de/ publikationen/fpdf‑1/3153.pdf> (1.47 MB, in German).
An English translation was published in the journal Public Health (© Springer-Verlag 2007), headlined “Night-time aircraft noise increases prevalence of prescriptions of antihypertensive and cardiovascular drugs irrespective of social class—the Cologne-Bonn Airport study,” by Eberhard Greiser, Claudia Greiser and Katrin Janhsen, Bremen University, Bremen, Germany.
Dessau, Germany, Feb. 22, 2007