Cohocton Wind Watch: Low-frequency noise linked to heart attacks
Cohocton Wind Watch is a community citizen organization dedicated to preserve the public safety, property values, economic viability, environmental integrity and quality of life in Cohocton, NY and in surrounding townships. Neighbors committed to public service in order to achieve a reasonable vision for a Finger Lakes region worthy of future generations.


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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Low-frequency noise linked to heart attacks

In an Oct. 9 letter to the Watertown Daily Times, I presented an article from the European Heart Journal authored by Dr. Stefan Willich et al. that suggested low-frequency noise may be related to heart attacks and that women seemed disproportionately at risk.

Dawn M. Munk of Three Mile Bay responded to my letter by bringing to our attention a critique by Dr. Wolfgang Babish (Oct. 25). Dr. Babish found fault with the way Dr. Willich's group had managed their data and took issue with the suggestion that noise affected women to a greater extent than men. In the meantime, Dr. Babish published a study suggesting men are at greater risk of heart attacks related to noise than women (Epidemiology, volume 16, 33-44, 2005).

So the respective research teams agree that there is evidence linking low-frequency noise and heart attacks. Dr. Babish concludes his critical letter (cited by Ms. Munk) with: "This supports the hypothesis that chronic exposure to traffic noise increases the risk for cardiovascular disorder, particularly myocardial infarction (heart attack)." So the important message is: They quibbled about some details, but largely agree with one another that low-frequency noise may have implications for our health.

Dr. Babish also participated in the World Health Organization conference in Stuttgart, Germany, June 23-24, 2005. Quoting from the Cardiovascular Section which Dr. Babish led, page 21: "There is sufficient evidence of an association between road traffic noise and ischemic heart diseases."

Ms. Munk furthermore criticizes my letter with, "There has never been a single peer-reviewed study linking wind turbines to ill health effects in those living nearby." This statement is at odds with our National Institutes of Health (NIH), since its representatives have stated, "Wind energy will undoubtedly create noise, which increases stress, which in turn increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer." (Environmental Health Perspectives, volume 116, pages A237-238, 2008.) The NIH is not known to make strong statements without sufficient evidence.

There are valuable lessons to be learned from the WHO and our NIH. But we need to keep an open mind. And the complexity and importance of the issues before us underscore the need for a comprehensive review by an impartial medical consulting firm. The last word on this issue should not be a few letters to the editor of the WDT, mine included.

Dr. Ralph H. Janicki

Cape Vincent

Dr. Janicki, M.D., Ph.D., is a fellow of the American College of Cardiology.

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