The researchers compared noise levels from road traffic to the incidence of diabetes in 57,000 people. As the noise levels increased so did the risk for developing the disease. The risk increased by 8 – 11 percent for every 10-decibel (dB) increase in road noise. A decibel is a measure of loudness and intensity of sound.
This research contributes to an increasing number of studies that show traffic noise can harm human health. While this study examines the relationship between traffic noise and diabetes, prior ones have linked noisier roads with cardiovascular disease.
The results have important implications for urban planning. As major cities attempt to increase urban density, more people may live closer to heavier traffic and noisier roads. Further, people with low incomes typically live closer to major roads and highways, putting them at greater risk.