This piece in Salon seems to suggest we’re way too loud for our own good.
For 50 years, if people didn’t like noise, and they had money, the solution has been: Move to the suburbs. Now we’ve made our suburbs noisy. They’re no longer quiet refuges,” says Les Blomberg, executive director of the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse in Montpelier, Vt. “We got our half-acre lots, and now we have our weed whacker, our leaf blower, our hedge trimmer, our riding lawn mower, and then we hop in our car and drive on four- and six-lane highways past thousands of other suburbs to our place of work, noise-polluting every place we pass.” But you don’t have to be an anti-noise crusader to suffer physical effects from noise, even if you’re sleeping right through it. Scientists at Imperial College London monitored the blood pressure of 140 sleeping volunteers who lived near London’s Heathrow airport. They discovered that subjects’ blood pressure rose when a plane few overhead even when the subjects remained asleep. A study of 5,000 45-to-70-year-olds living near airports for at least five years found that they were at greater risk of suffering from hypertension, aka high blood pressure, than their counterparts in quieter realms. People with high blood pressure have an increased risk of developing heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and dementia. In 2007, WHO estimated that long-term exposure to traffic noise may account for 3 percent of deaths from ischemic heart disease among Europeans.