Evaluation of the social and economic burden of road traffic noise-attributed myocardial infarction in Bulgarian urban population

Arh Hig Rada Toksikol. 2015 Mar;66(1):15-21. doi: 10.1515/aiht-2015-66-2562.


Road traffic noise is a widely studied environmental risk factor for ischaemic heart disease and myocardial infarction in particular. Given that myocardial infarction is a leading disability and mortality cause in Bulgaria and that a significant proportion of the urban population is exposed to high noise levels, quantification of the burden of disease attributable to traffic noise is essential for environmental health policy making and noise control engineering. This study aimed at estimating the burden of the myocardial infarction cases attributable to road traffic noise in the Bulgarian urban population. We used the methodology for estimating the burden of disease attributable to environmental noise outlined by the World Health Organization. Risk data were extracted from a recently published meta-analysis providing updated exposure-response relationship between traffic noise and the risk for myocardial infarction. Based on these data we calculated the fraction of myocardial infarction cases attributable to traffic noise, loss of quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs), and the economic burden, assuming € 12,000 per QALY. About 2.9 % or 101 of all myocardial infarction cases could be attributed to road traffic noise. Fifty-five of these were fatal. Nine hundred and sixty-eight QALYs were lost to these cases. The monetary value of these QALYs was about € 11.6 million. Although the measures used in this study are crude and give only an approximation of the real burden of disease from road traffic noise, they are indicative of the important social and economic aspect of noise pollution in Bulgaria. Hopefully, these results will direct the attention of epidemiologists, environmental hygienists, and health economists to this pivotal environmental issue.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Bulgaria
  • Cost of Illness
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Environmental Health
  • Humans
  • Myocardial Infarction / etiology*
  • Noise / adverse effects*
  • Risk Factors
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data*