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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(8), 9952-9966; doi:10.3390/ijerph120809952

The Association between Noise, Cortisol and Heart Rate in a Small-Scale Gold Mining Community—A Pilot Study

1
Department of Environmental Health Sciences, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA
2
Risk Science Center, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Nil Basu, Susan Keane and Paleah Black Moher
Received: 19 May 2015 / Revised: 11 August 2015 / Accepted: 18 August 2015 / Published: 21 August 2015
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Abstract

We performed a cross-sectional pilot study on salivary cortisol, heart rate, and personal noise exposures in a small-scale gold mining village in northeastern Ghana in 2013. Cortisol level changes between morning and evening among participants showed a relatively low decline in cortisol through the day (−1.44 ± 4.27 nmol/L, n = 18), a pattern consistent with chronic stress. A multiple linear regression, adjusting for age, sex, smoking status, and time between samples indicated a significant increase of 0.25 nmol/L cortisol from afternoon to evening per 1 dBA increase in equivalent continuous noise exposure (Leq) over that period (95% CI: 0.08–0.42, Adj R2 = 0.502, n = 17). A mixed effect linear regression model adjusting for age and sex indicated a significant increase of 0.29 heart beats per minute (BPM) for every 1 dB increase in Leq. Using standard deviations (SDs) as measures of variation, and adjusting for age and sex over the sampling period, we found that a 1 dBA increase in noise variation over time (Leq SD) was associated with a 0.5 BPM increase in heart rate SD (95% CI: 0.04–−0.9, Adj. R2 = 0.229, n = 16). Noise levels were consistently high, with 24-hour average Leq exposures ranging from 56.9 to 92.0 dBA, with a mean daily Leq of 82.2 ± 7.3 dBA (mean monitoring duration 22.1 ± 1.9 hours, n = 22). Ninety-five percent of participants had 24-hour average Leq noise levels over the 70 dBA World health Organization (WHO) guideline level for prevention of hearing loss. These findings suggest that small-scale mining communities may face multiple, potentially additive health risks that are not yet well documented, including hearing loss and cardiovascular effects of stress and noise. View Full-Text
Keywords: small-scale gold mining; ASGM; dietary diversity; salivary cortisol; stress; heart rate; noise exposure; Ghana; health determinants small-scale gold mining; ASGM; dietary diversity; salivary cortisol; stress; heart rate; noise exposure; Ghana; health determinants
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Green, A.; Jones, A.D.; Sun, K.; Neitzel, R.L. The Association between Noise, Cortisol and Heart Rate in a Small-Scale Gold Mining Community—A Pilot Study. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12, 9952-9966.

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