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Spring 2014, page 4

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Auditory and non­-auditory effects of noise on health

The Lancet, Early Online Publication, 30 October 2013

Dr Mathias Basner MD a [Corresponding Author], Wolfgang Babisch PhD b, Prof Adrian Davis PhD c, d, Mark Brink PhD e, Charlotte Clark PhD f, Sabine Janssen PhD g, Prof Stephen Stansfeld PhD f


Noise is pervasive in everyday life and can cause both auditory and non­auditory health effects. Noise­ induced hearing loss remains highly prevalent in occupational settings, and is increasingly caused by social noise exposure (eg, through personal music players). Our understanding of molecular mechanisms involved in noise­ induced hair­cell and nerve damage has substantially increased, and preventive and therapeutic drugs will probably become available within 10 years. Evidence of the non­-auditory effects of environmental noise exposure on public health is growing. Observational and experimental studies have shown that noise exposure leads to annoyance, disturbs sleep and causes daytime sleepiness, affects patient outcomes and staff performance in hospitals, increases the occurrence of hypertension and cardiovascular disease, and impairs cognitive performance in schoolchildren. In this Review, we stress the importance of adequate noise prevention and mitigation strategies for public health.

a: Unit for Experimental Psychiatry, Division of Sleep and Chronobiology, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA, USA

b: Department of Environmental Hygiene, Federal Environment Agency, Berlin, Germany

c: Public Health England, Wellington House, Waterloo Road, London, UK

d: Ear Institute, University College, London, UK

e: D­MTEC Public and Organizational Health, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
f: Centre for Psychiatry, Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, Barts and London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, UK

g Department of Urban Environment and Safety, TNO (Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research), Delft, Netherlands

[Corresponding Author Information] Correspondence to: Dr. Mathias Basner, Unit for Experimental Psychiatry, Division of Sleep and Chronobiology, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6021, USA.

European Parliament tackles underwater industrial noise pollution

November 2013: In October the European Parliament voted to make oil and gas exploration using underwater sonar subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), as a significant step to reducing marine noise pollution. An enquiry into the 2008 stranding of 100 melon-headed whales in Madagascar implicated the noise associated with oil exploration as the cause of the event, the first time such a finding has been made in relation to industrial noise pollution.

The story came to the attention of concerned MEPs, who were already considering a revision to the EIA Directive.

After some intensive last-minute lobbying, the EU parliament voted to include “research and exploration of minerals” among those activities that require an EIA.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare is now working to ensure exploration activities in critical whale habitats - such as Sakhalin Island, Russia, around Australia and the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the US - benefit from EIAs imposed on oil and gas exploration there.

Link to article

Helicopter noise made visible for the first time

Researchers from the German Aerospace Centre in Göttingen developed a way of taking pictures of vortices that form at the tips of a helicopter’s blades. As the rotor blades punch through the air, they create a vortex at their tips, caused by a difference in pressure around the blade (reduced pressure above the blade and an area of increased pressure below it).

As the rotors spin and hit the vortices of their adjacent blades, they produce the helicopter’s distinctive “carpet beater” noise. In the image, blade-tip vortices are visible as dark lines during a complete rotation of the main rotor.

The engine exhaust flows are perceptible as a noisy area trailing the helicopter. The tail rotor’s vortex system is also visible (black, circular lines on the tail rotor). The helicopter is pictured performing a rocking manoeuvre.

To photograph the vortices, scientists used a light-tracking technique called the Background Oriented Schlieren Method. Light rays are refracted as they travel through sections of atmosphere with varying densities. This phenomenon is seen against a suitable background like a limestone quarry.

- Metro, Vancouver

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