Aircraft noise is environmental pollution. Advances in the quietening of aircraft are entirely negated by increases in the number of aircraft and longer airport operating hours. The main factors determining the nuisance are the noise peak levels, the frequency of disturbance and the time of day. Numerous studies underline the negative consequences of living under a flight path.
Excessive noise exerts a negative influence on health for several reasons. First, when the noise occurs at night, it disturbs sleep. Also, noise causes the body to release stress hormones, which can negatively impact the immune system, the cardiovascular system, even cholesterol levels. The more noise, the worse the effects. Airplanes are particularly noisy: for comparison, ambient noise in a quiet rural area registers at around 30 decibels, on average; in a typical restaurant where there’s background music playing, it is 60-decibels; a Boeing 737 jet registers at 90 decibels one mile away from landing. Bear in mind that volume doubles with every 10 decibels.
A 2018 study in Occupational and Environmental Medicine followed 420 people living near an airport in Greece and found that each additional 10 decibels of aircraft noise at night led to a 69 percent increase in the incidence of hypertension.
A 2013 study found a significant increase in hypertension and cardiac-related hospital admissions in communities surrounding 89 airports across the USA. An earlier study at Heathrow Airport in London found a direct line between airport noise exposure and stroke and cardiovascular disease.
Airport noise raises nervous system and cardiovascular levels even among children. A 2005 study published in The Lancet found that for every 10 decibels of increased noise pollution in the surroundings, reading levels for kids fell behind by two months and comprehension faltered proportionately.