The link between living near busy roads and the effect on health has now made the national news following the study released by The Lancet, with analysis of a major study suggesting that 7-11% of dementia cases within 50m of a major road could be caused by traffic. More research is needed to understand the link, but the suggestion is that noise and air pollution may be involved.

Lots of research is available linking traffic noise to cardiovascular disease, heart attack, stroke and dementia, with people living near airports having an increased risk. Sleep deprivation over a prolonged period can also cause problems, even when the person is not consciously aware of it. The noise level that causes sleep disturbance is relatively low (around 40 dB), which is below the noise that would be generated by a road. The studies that have been carried out clearly show that continued exposure to excessive noise levels is not good for long term health.

Those living near busy roads are likely to be increasingly concerned about the associated health risks. The window and door industry might not be able to do much about the air pollution, but could provide a solution to deal with the traffic noise, by offering an acoustic specification.

The amount of noise that passes through a window or door will normally be a substantial contributor to the noise that enters the building. This is because the main fabric of a building for typical constructions will usually achieve around 50 to 60 dB Rw, whereas most windows and doors sold into the UK market achieve around 25dB Rw. When fitting windows or doorsets, for both new build or replacement, this gives the opportunity to substantially decrease the external noise levels by choosing a window or door that has been designed to reduce noise.

Fabricators and installers who work around airports and in major cities will already be familiar with the value of installing acoustic glass, but the potential for such installations is likely to be far greater going forward.

Manufacturers who are considering offering an acoustic window or doorset should have the performance of their complete product tested. The specification of glass fitted to the product will have a huge effect on its acoustic performance, but this is only part of the equation, with the profiles, seals, ventilators, other components and the method of manufacture all playing vital a part in the overall performance. Once the acoustic performance of your product has been proven, you won’t have to look too hard to find houses on a busy road, under a flight path, near a train line, or in another location that is affected by noise. Offering your acoustic products in these areas could persuade someone to buy, and may well have a positive impact on their long-term health.