The current system of noise monitoring of planes uses averages, but the human body is more set up to react to individual sound bursts i.e. changes in the environment. Aircraft noise has been found to be the most highly stressful form of transport noise. Numerous studies, including those recently published in the British Medical Journal[i] show aircraft noise is directly linked to high blood pressure and an increased risk of cardiovascular damage leading to coronary heart disease.
Aircraft noise at night poses the most significant health risks because it has been shown to disrupt normal sleep, even though people subjected to it are usually unaware of being affected.[ii]Plane noise as low as 35dB has been demonstrated to increase heart rates, arousals, stage changes and awakening patterns in sleep leading to a permanent state of semi-arousal. (60+dB is commonly recorded at the Four Winds monitor at Bidborough.)
Sleep is a fundamental need of all human beings. People living near airports or under flightpaths are likely to suffer from sleep deprivation. This is associated with immune system and hormonal dysfunction and has a variety of physical as well as mental effects ranging from anxiety to obesity, all in turn leading to greater dependency on medicinal or other drugs. Suicide rates under flight paths tend to be twice the national average.
Children are one of the groups of people most at risk from the effects of aircraft noise and especially if subjected to night noise as well.The “Ranch Study” of 2005[iii] assessed the cognitive skills of 2,844 children between the age of 9 and 11 years in areas near the airports of London, Amsterdam and Madrid and identified deficits in the children’s development and their capacity of performance, in particular weak reading skills.
[ii] http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/43316/E92845.pdf See also Civil Aviation Authority ERCD report no: 1208: http://www.caa.co.uk/application.aspx?catid=33&pagetype=65&appid=11&mode=detail&id=5360
[iii] There have been numerous studies showing the adverse effects of noise on children, this is just one of them and available online as PDF: ESRC Research Report RANCH follow-up study: the long-term effects of aircraft noise exposure on children’s cognition RES-062-23-1165