May 2013 - "A Looming Shame" - T. James Matthews Ph.D.   

    "Surely the formation of several groups targeting aircraft noise, more than a few law suits,
    repeated political campaign planks, innumerable letters to the editor in every local paper,
    many thousands of calls to a “hot line” that never responds, many published complaint ads,
    frequent testimony at Town Board meetings, and the actual experience of positioning one’s
    self under any flight path on a summer Friday evening should provide all the evidence
    necessary to compel government to find a way to spare its citizens and neighbors and wildlife
    this deeply provocative and increasingly excessive assault on their state of mind."

    July 2012 - Aircraft Noise, Health and Residential Sorting

    A recent study in Switzerland took advantage of two temporary changes in flight patterns at
    the Zurich airport.  Using a Swiss public health monitoring index, they noted that during
    periods when flights were suspended, highly significant reductions in sleep disturbances,
    weariness, and headaches were observed.  These would appear to be related to the noise
    reduction that accompanied the elimination of aircraft overflights of the area.  A metric that
    they’ve developed to translate discomfort and illness into monetary value estimates that
    aviation noise in this area costs $400 per year  per person.

    Boes, S., Nuesch, S. & Stillman, S. Aircraft noise, health, and residential sorting: Evidence from Two
    Quasi-Experiments.  Discussion Paper Series. IAZ DP No. 6744, July, 2012

    Aircraft Noise and Human Health
    T. James Matthews  Ph.D.

    In 2010, Hales Swift of Purdue University and the Partnership for Air Transportation Noise
    and Emissions Reduction, MIT, published a “Review of Literature Related to Potential
    Health Effects of Aircraft Noise” (1). In brief, they report results that lead to the conception
    that noise produces both cardio vascular arousal and sleep shortening, fragmentation,
    and sleep stage disturbances. Cardiovascular arousal can lead to hypertension and
    heard disease. Sleep disturbances can lead to obesity, diabetes, blood pressure
    disturbances, hypertension and heart disease. Evidence linking these connections includes
    a study called HYENA which showed correlations between aircraft noise exposure and
    hypertension and sleep restriction (2). These relationships remained when confounders
    were statistically eliminated.  

    Researchers studying the development of diabetes have found increased prevalence of
    diabetes among those experiencing shortened, and disrupted sleep (3). Evidence for a
    causal connection also comes from laboratory studies finding that acute sleep restriction
    negatively impacts glucose management. The action of the sympathetic nervous system
    seems to be a highly recurrent theme in the sleep disturbance-related health effects and
    has been additionally linked to the action of leptin and ghrelin, the hunger regulating
    hormones believed to be important mediators in the development of sleep-disturbance
    related obesity.

    These and other studies suggest that “a well-supported case seems to exist for the
    occurrence of an effect of noise on hypertension development, possibly mediated by
    sleep disruption”.

    Also reviewed was evidence indicating that exposure to aircraft noise can disturb
    cognitive functioning, particularly in children (4). As examples, one study showed that
    reading comprehension was delayed 1-2 months for every 5-db increment of noise.  
    Another study showed diminished recall and recognition of a passage in the presence
    of noise. In a high school where airport noise was recently reduced by noise mitigation
    installations, improvements were seen on both verbal and math/science standardized
    test performance (5).

    Conclusion: Overall, the currently available evidence raises serious questions about
    the effects of aircraft noise on human health and mental functioning. While the exact
    mechanisms of these effects remain incompletely understood, it is clear that the reduction
    of aircraft noise is in the best interest of those exposed to it.

    (1) Swift, H. 2010. A Review of Literature Related to Potential Health Effects of Aircraft
    Noise. Partner project 19, Final Report

    (2) Rosenlund, M., Berglind, N., Pershagen, G., Jarup, L., Bluhm, G., 2001. Increased prevalence of
    hypertension in a population exposed to aircraft noise. Occupational and Environmental Medicine 58

    (3) Stansfeld, S. A., Matheson, M. P., 2003. Noise pollution: non-auditory effects on health. British
    Medical Bulletin 68(no iss. #):243-257.

    (4) Hygge, S., 2003. Classroom experiments on the effects of different noise sources and sound
    levels on longterm recall and recognition in children. Applied Cognitive Psychology
    (5) Eagan, M. E., Anderson, G., Nicholas B., Horonjeff, R., Tivnan, T., 2004. Relation
    between aircraft noise reduction in schools and standardized test scores. Federal Interagency
    Committee on Aviation Noise. Mr Alan F. Zusman, Chariman, Department of
    the Navy, Washington Navy Yard, 1322 Patterson Ave. SE, Washington, DC 20374-5065 Alan.

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