Socioeconomics and heart disease among people living near railways
Natalia Caldeira Loss Vincens, a postdoc in occupational and environmental medicine, investigates how cardiometabolic health is affected by noise and vibration for people living near railways with a link to social inequality.
Environmental health and socioeconomic risks are often studied separately, but some studies suggest individuals in lower socioeconomic positions, for instance with lower education and income levels, may be more exposed or more vulnerable to severe health effects when exposed to environmental risks.
According to Natalia Caldeira Loss Vincens, a postdoc in occupational and environmental medicine at the Institute of Medicine:
“In this new project, we want to learn if individuals with lower socioeconomic position living near railways are more affected by stroke, heart attack and other cardiometabolic diseases. If so, is it because people in lower socioeconomic positions are more exposed to disturbances from railways or is it because people in lower socioeconomic positions are more vulnerable to the effects of exposure to noise and vibration? Probably it is a combination of both.”
Noise and vibrations
Vincens has just received SEK 3 million for this study through Formas’ call for early-career researchers. The three-year study is part of a larger project investigating how noise and vibrations from railways affect human health. The project is being led by Professor Kerstin Persson Waye in the Sound and Environmental Research group, Environmental and Occupational Medicine and has previously received funding from the Swedish Transport Administration, among others.
Vincens’ study will combine responses to questionnaires with health register data, modelled exposures and indicators of socioeconomic position. People living within one kilometer of a railway in four regions in Southwest Sweden can be included in the study. The research data covers data about nearly 7,000 people.
Blood pressure and diabetes
The extent to which noise and vibrations from trains affect cardiometabolic health is still debated.
“Today we have more evidence that noise from road traffic has a negative effect on the health of people who are more frequently exposed to heavily used roads, while for rail traffic we still need more studies to confirm these effects. We have so far been able to see in thin ongoing project that diabetes in particular is more common among people living close to the railways exposed to vibration.”
Natalia Caldeira Loss Vincens trained as a medical doctor in her native Brazil. She moved to Lund, Sweden nine years ago to do a master’s degree in public health, which was then followed by her doctoral education. Her dissertation was on health inequality in Latin America, particularly in Brazil.