by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition
As many as 600,000 people in Finland are affected by road traffic noise, according to a report in the journal Ympäristö ja terveys (Environment and Health in English). That is a fairly large number in any case, but Finland is a small country and that’s more than 10% of the population..
The report uses the word “annoys” to describe one of the impacts of road traffic noise on people, but I think the word “disturbs” is more accurate. Unwanted noise, including road traffic noise, doesn’t just bother people, it makes it hard to concentrate, hard to communicate, hard to relax.
And noise is much more than an annoyance. Exposure to road traffic noise is strongly correlated, probably causally so, with a wide variety of medical conditions, including hypertension obesity, diabetes and heart attack.
Fortunately, in Finland’s harsh climate, houses are well-insulated and much of the year windows are rarely opened, so road traffic noise is less of a problem than in more temperate climate zones.