People who live close to airports suffer more than mere annoyance from ascending
and descending aircraft. Aircraft noise may
significantly impact the mental and physical health of people who live below the
flight paths of commercial and private airplanes. Since the 1970s,
numerous studies have found aircraft noise linked to:
- sleep disturbances
- work-related performance
- learning and academic performance
These trends need further analysis and documentation. Unfortunately, due to lack
of federal funding for noise research, studies have not been conducted.
The Office of Noise Abatement and Control (ONAC), part of the Environmental
Protection Agency, was established in 1972 as a result of the Noise Control Act
passed by Congress. Unfortunately, severe budget cuts during the 1980s have
reduced this office to a skeleton staff incapable of meeting the public's
demands for more research.
Morrow, Lance. "Airline
Pollution: The Sky Has Its Limits." Time Magazine. May. 07, 2001. Air
traffic is getting noisier and dirtier, and the FAA is doing a lousy job of
Noise as a hazard: Medical professionals talk about the health effects of night-flights.
"Noise: a health problem." 1978
US-EPA. "Sound Levels and
Noise & Health http://www.lhh.org/noise/facts/health.htm
Noise & Children's Learning http://www.lhh.org/noise/children/learning.htm
Noise & Children's Health http://www.lhh.org/noise/children/health.htm
Noise & Children's Behavior http://www.lhh.org/noise/children/behavior.htm
Noise Levels Common in Our Environment http://www.lhh.org/noise/decibel.htm
Health Organization; Guidelines for Community Noise
Noise Studies, Children:
Bronzaft, A. L. Effects of Noise.
In Encyclopedia of Environmental Science and Engineering. (1998). Edited by J.
R. Pfafflin and E. N. Ziegler. Netherlands: Gordon and Breach Science
Review article includes definition
of sound and noise, physiological and psychological effects of noise,
responsibility of government, planning and designing for quiet, and discussion
of efforts of organizations combating noises.
Bronzaft, A. L. Noise Sources,
Health Impacts and Legal Remedies: A Psychologist's Perspective. (1998).
Environmental Law in New York. New York: Matthew Bender.
Discusses the sources of noises and
mental and physical health impacts but the major focus is on the law and noise
on the federal and New York State level.
Bronzaft, A., Ahern, K. D., McGinn,
R., O'Connor, J. and Savino, B. Aircraft Noise: A Potential Health Hazard.
In Environment and Behavior, January 1998, Volume 30, pp 101-113.
Abstract: A questionnaire
distributed to two groups, one living within the flight pattern of a major
airport and the other in a nonflight area, sought to determine whether these
groups would respond differently to questionnaires pertaining to noise, health
perception, and quality of life issues. Nearly 70% of the residents living
within the flight corridors reported themselves bothered by aircraft noise.
Aircraft noise, in contrast to other bothersome noises, interfered more
frequently with daily activities. Subjects who were bothered aircraft noise
were more likely to complain of sleep difficulties and more likely to perceive
themselves to be in poorer health. This study's finding of a possible
realtionship betweeen noise and adverse health effects might encourage policy
makers to enact pending antinoise legislation and to fund further noise
Please share this study with public
officials, neighbors, and all interested in effects of noise on health. With
70% of the subjects reporting being bothered by noise, it can't be said that
only a few are bothered. Daily activities interfered with: watching
television, sleeping, opening windows, sleep. These are all important to a
good "quality of life."
For more information: Contact Arline
L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., 505 E. 79th Street, New York, NY 10021. -- email: