Residents near Belfast City Airport alarmed at research linking strokes and heart disease to aircraft noise
Residents affected by aircraft noise in Belfast and north Down, in Northern Ireland, have expressed concern at the findings of a new study – published in the BMJ. The study found the risk of being admitted to hospital because of a stroke or heart disease was linked to the level of aircraft noise to which an individual was exposed; the higher the level of noise, the more likely it was that they would be admitted to hospital with one of those conditions. Likewise with the risk of dying from heart disease. Dr Liz Fawcett, Chair of the Belfast City Airport Watch Steering Group, said the findings raise serious questions about the damage which aircraft noise may be inflicting on the health of people living under the flight paths. In Belfast the City Airport’s own figures show that more than 8,500 local people are impacted by aircraft noise at a level which the UK government considers likely to cause significant annoyance. These people may also be suffering effects on their health, which is unfair on them. Liz said: “It’s also unfair on the taxpayer footing the bill for hospital admissions which, in some cases, may be avoidable.”
Residents’ alarm at research linking strokes and heart disease to aircraft noise
9th October 2013 (Belfast City Airport Watch)
Residents affected by aircraft noise in Belfast and north Down have expressed concern at the findings of a new study which links the incidence of strokes and heart disease to aircraft noise.
The study, which has just been published in the British Medical Journal, found that the risk of being admitted to hospital because of a stroke or heart disease was linked to the level of aircraft noise to which an individual was exposed; the higher the level of noise, the more likely it was that they would be admitted to hospital with one of those conditions.
The researchers also found a significant link between the risk of dying of heart disease and daytime exposure to aircraft noise; again, the greater the level of noise, the greater was the risk of dying from the condition. The results were adjusted to allow for other factors, such as deprivation and the existing risk of dying from lung cancer.
The study has prompted an editorial in the British Medical Journal which says that planners need to take into account the results of this and other similar research when deciding whether to permit airports to expand their operations in heavily populated areas.
The research, which was carried out in a number of areas near Heathrow Airport, has prompted concern among residents living under the flight paths near George Best Belfast City Airport.
Dr Liz Fawcett, Chair of the Belfast City Airport Watch Steering Group, says:
“These findings raise serious questions about the damage which aircraft noise may well be inflicting on the health of people living under the flight paths.
“The City Airport’s own figures show that more than 8,500 local people are impacted by aircraft noise at a level which the UK government considers likely to cause significant annoyance.
“This study confirms that there could well be significant health impacts, regardless of residents’ views on the noise issue.
“That’s entirely unfair on the people who live under the flight paths, and it’s also unfair on the taxpayer footing the bill for hospital admissions which, in some cases, may be avoidable.”
One east Belfast pensioner who is concerned about the impact of aircraft noise on her own quality of life and health is Elizabeth Bennett (72).
Elizabeth has lived in her home in Sydenham for the past 40 years, and she says her retirement is being ruined by the noise of planes flying over her.
“They start at 6.30am and go on all day, every day – it’s just relentless,” she says.
“You sit down to try to relax and read a newspaper, and then another one goes over you.
“You can’t concentrate and it affects your sleep – I’m at my wit’s end to be honest, and I am concerned about the effect which the stress may be having on my health.”
Belfast City Airport Watch says it is especially concerned about this latest research in the light of the City Airport’s current request to amend its planning agreement.
“In its editorial on this research, the British Medical Journal states that the study is of particular relevance where an airport is expanding its operations in a heavily populated area,” says Dr Fawcett.
“That’s exactly the situation which we have at the moment with the City Airport’s application to change its planning agreement.
“The proposals which the airport has submitted would massively increase the number of people who could be subjected to serious levels of noise.
“We hope the forthcoming public inquiry on the airport’s application will take full account of the mounting international evidence which shows a link between aircraft noise and public health.”
- Belfast City AirportWatch comprises 18 residents’ and community groups across affected areas within east and south Belfast, and north Down, one trade union branch and one schools’ project. It also has approximately 680 individual associate members. For more information on the campaign, visit: www.belfastcityairportwatch.
The paper is:
A. Hansell et al. ‘Aircraft noise and cardiovascular disease near Heathrow airport in London: small area study.’ British Medical Journal, 2013.
Link to research paper: http://press.psprings.co.uk/bmj/october/aircraft1.pdf
Public link to paper: http://www.bmj.com/cgi/doi/10.1136/bmj.f5432
New study links aircraft noise from Heathrow to increased risk of heart disease and strokes
October 9, 2013 A new study by researchers at Imperial College and King’s College in London – and published in the BMJ – has found that deaths from stroke, heart and circulatory disease are 20% higher in areas with high levels of aircraft noise than in places with the least noise. The research compared on day- and night-time aircraft noise with hospital admissions and mortality rates among a population of 3.6 million people living near Heathrow airport. Their study covered 12 London boroughs and 9 districts outside London where aircraft noise exceeds 50 decibels – about the volume of a normal conversation in a quiet room. The researchers made every effort to eliminate other factors that might have a relationship with stroke and heart disease, such as deprivation, South Asian ethnicity and smoking-related illness. This new study confirms the findings of the 2008 “HYENA” study, also by Imperial College, which looked at people living near Heathrow and 5 other European airports. The research is clear that living with a lot of aircraft noise damages health, though this needs further work. The study indicates that planners need to take the health impacts of aircraft noise into account when expanding airports in heavily populated areas or planning new airports.
UK and American studies both show aircraft noise may increase risk of heart disease
Date added: October 9, 2013
People who live close to an airport and are exposed to constant loud aircraft noise may face an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, according to new studies from the UK and the US. The aircraft noise is not merely an irritation, and does not just reduce people’s quality of life. It also causes actual harm to health, especially for older people. This should be factored in to future planning decisions about new airports and runways. The UK study published in the BMJ looked at admissions and mortality rates for 3.6 million people living near Heathrow in the noisiest areas. The linked American study looked at over 6 million Americans over the age of 65 living around 89 US airports. It found that, on average, their risk went up 3.5% for every extra 10 decibels of noise they experienced. Simon Calder said that 2 days ago, Sir Howard Davies gave a meticulous exposition of the factors concerning his commission, and its decision on new UK airport capacity. “He paid due regard to the concerns of local residents about noise and traffic. But 48 hours ago a correlation between airport proximity and the risk of heart attacks or strokes was not in the public domain. Now that it is, the spectrum of harm from airports has extended from nuisance to a serious public health threat.”