From: EurActiv
Published July 15, 2014 07:24 AM

Exposure to Aircraft noise a continuing problem even with quieter engines

Millions of urban Europeans are exposed to aviation noise that contributes to stress, high blood pressure and even weight gain, say health specialists who want stronger measures to make flying quieter.

While new-generation jet engines are on average 75% quieter than than their 20th century predecessors, the advance in technology has been offset by a steady rise in flights and a demand for bigger passenger planes.

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Stephen Stansfeld, a noise expert who heads the Centre for Psychiatry at Queen Mary University of London, says there is little doubt that "repeated and prolonged exposure" to the commotion of aviation is linked to heart and blood pressure problems, and can cause diminished learning in children.

People's annoyance with air traffic also seems to be rising, "and it's not entirely understood why that should be, whether it is greater sensitivity to airport operations, or whether it's due to the fact there is more change around airports in terms of noise exposure which could sensitise people," Stansfeld told EurActiv in a telephone interview. "The noise level from individual aircraft has gone down, but of course there are many more of them."

Marie-Eve Héroux, technical officer on air quality and noise at the World Health Organization's Centre for Environment and Health in Bonn, points to "significant research" into the health impact of transportation noise in general. As examples, she cites sleep disturbance, annoyance, cognitive impairment, ringing sounds in ears, as well as a rise in cardiovascular diseases, hearing impairment and adverse birth outcomes.

Image of Russian IL-76 aircraft banned under EU regulations via Shutterstock.

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