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Year : 2000  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 8  |  Page : 1--8

A review of environmental noise and mental health

1 Department of Psychiatry, St Bartholomew's and the Royal London School of Medicine and Dentistry, London, United Kingdom
2 Centre for Applied Public Health Medicine, Cardiff, United Kingdom
3 National Physical Laboratory, Teddington, United Kingdom
4 Institute for Social Medicine, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria

Correspondence Address:
S A Stansfeld
Department of Psychiatry, St Bartholomew's and the Royal London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS
United Kingdom
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 12689457

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The question of whether environmental noise exposure causes mental ill-health is still largely unanswered. This paper reviews the studies of environmental and industrial noise and mental ill-health published between 1993 and 1998 and suggests possibilities for future research. Recent community based studies suggest high levels of environmental noise are associated with mental health symptoms such as depression and anxiety but not with impaired psychological functioning. Several studies find that self-reported noise sensitivity does not interact with noise exposure to lead to increased vulnerability to mental ill-health. Chronic aircraft noise exposure in children impairs quality of life but does not lead to depression or anxiety. Further research on environmental noise and mental health should be accompanied by more accurate and detailed measurement of noise exposure and consideration of the impact of other environmental stressors and careful measurement of confounding factors such as social class. Target study populations exposed to noise should be chosen to avoid those where noise exposure is likely to have led to noise sensitive individuals moving away from the area. There should also be greater use of standardised instruments to measure a wider range of mental health outcomes. Also other physiological outcomes such as hormonal measures could with benefit be measured simultaneously.


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