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Sound disturbance is a common reaction in populations exposed to environmental noise. It is associated with the occurrence of diseases, including cardiovascular diseases. The International Journal of Cardiology published an article in which it draws attention to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), estimating that 12.6 million annual deaths are linked to unhealthy environments: 23% of global deaths.

“Like other forms of pollution, exposure to environmental noise belongs to environmental risks and has an important implication in the relationship with adverse health outcomes”, say the experts. The article is based on a survey of 15 thousand participants, in which 14.6 thousand answered questionnaires about auditory discomfort due to noise. Of these, 80% said they were disturbed by sounds at some level. Their medical histories were evaluated, along with electrocardiograms and other documents. The study concludes: “in short, the study describes a significant association between noise and atrial fibrillation”.

Decades of discussion

As Dr. Armando Lacerda clarified in an article published in the Brazilian Journal of Otorhinolaryngology, in 1971, “noise acts on the human organism in several ways, impairing not only the functioning of the auditory system but also compromising physical, physiological and individual’s mental health to him (sic) exposed ”. According to Lacerda, “we know that the noises that we usually hear in the streets, such as the sounds of engines or car horns, motorcycles, sirens for rescue vehicles, airplanes, especially jets, helicopters, construction machines, loud voices of people, etc., are unpleasant sounds that result from irregular vibrations that can damage the sound balance with severe repercussions on the hearing aid and organic functions. (…) the noise below 40 decibels is only unpleasant, the noise from 40 to 90 decibels are already capable of promoting nervous disorders and those above 90 decibels have a more traumatic action for the ear “.

Expectations In 2017, Argentina, France, Japan and Lebanon asked the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco), to include on the agenda for the debates at their conferences “the importance of sound in today’s world: promoting best practices ”. At the 39th General Conference of Unesco, the organ’s management committee recommended that the proposal of the four countries adopt efforts to understand issues related to sound at an international level, in several aspects, such as ambient sound, recording technologies, reproduction and sound conservation. The conference also took human health seriously:

“Convinced that the sound environment is a key component of our balance as it shapes our individual and collective behavior (…) since human beings and other living organisms are both dependent on or agents of a sound environment that makes increasing use of sound and audiovisual equipment at increasing levels of continuous and harmful noises, and that this issue has already been addressed by international institutions such as the WHO (…), also seeing that throughout the world, the densification of communities and the intensification of urbanization, which leads to an increase in noise level, makes the soundscape a matter of concern for professionals and citizens, expressing the hope that Unesco can work towards an understanding of sound-related issues at an international level (… ) to promote best practices related to sound in all areas of life since childhood “, declared Unesco in a document available at ternet.