Huge “NORAH” study in Germany finds significant delay in children’s reading due to impact of aircraft noise
One of the largest and most extensive studies on the impact of aircraft noise on health, and on children’s education has been done in Germany. The NORAH study (Noise-Related Annoyance, Cognition, and Health) has been done by scientists from a range of different disciplines: medicine, psychology, social science, physics and acoustics. The work was done between 2011 and 2014, looking into exposure to aviation, road and rail noise in a large area around Frankfurt Airport and Cologne/Bonn and Stuttgart airports. One of the 3 sections of the study looked at noise and children, and this found that aircraft noise affects reading performance. A rise in the flight noise by 10 dB means a delay in reading development of about a month. With a rise in noise of 20dB the delay was 2 months. Also that the overall health and school-related quality of life of children is slightly diminished by aircraft noise. They did not find an impact of aircraft noise on language skills significant for reading. There were problems with noisy classrooms, with over a third in the worst affected classrooms unable to properly understand the teacher.
Imperfect translations into English from the original German, below.
Aircraft noise and health
Overview of the NORAH Study
What impact does traffic noise have on the quality of life, health and development of children? These are the three main questions at the centre of the NORAH Study.
NORAH (Noise-Related Annoyance, Cognition, and Health) is the most extensive study on the subject of noise impact so far. The scientists involved in the study come from a wide range of different disciplines: medicine, psychology, social science, physics and acoustics.
They are working together to find answers to questions which have remained unanswered in noise impact research up to now. To do this they calculate the past and current, address-specific exposure to aviation, road and rail noise in a large area around the Frankfurt Airport.
The researchers compare these values with data on the health, quality of life and development of a total of more than one million persons in the region. In addition to this, the scientists are surveying several thousand people in the areas around the airports Berlin Brandenburg, Cologne/Bonn and Stuttgart.
NORAH children study results
Results of the study:
Results of NORAH children study at a glance
How does noise affect the child’s development and quality of life? This question is the children study performed within the framework of NORAH. For this purpose, the scientists of NORAH team tests, surveys and measurements at 29 schools, 85 schools, conducted in 1,243 children, 1,185 parents and 85 teachers in the Rhine-Main area.
The study focuses on learning to read, the health and educational well-being of children and the noise pollution in learning at home and at school. Thus it links directly to previous studies in other locations, and attempts to answer open questions.
What affects learning to read yet?
The NORAH study has examined not only the impact of aircraft noise on learning to read, but also other factors whose influence on learning is known – about the German language or the number of children’s books in the home. Only in this way it was possible to determine exactly how much aircraft noise acts on learning to read. With this data, the scientists were able to show that some of the investigated in the study factors greater than in aircraft noise on learning to read. For example, were children who have many books, the children without their own books in the text read by four months ahead. However, this can not be directly compared because parents can decide how much they want to help their children learn to read. On the other hand, aircraft noise, they have no control.
In children with a migrant background NORAH scientists found no statistically significant association between aircraft noise and learning to read. However, this result should not lead to hasty conclusions. The authors of the study suggest that it comes into existence through a statistical effect: You might overlap with this subgroup so many factors that have an impact on teaching reading that it was no longer possible to reliably detect effects of aircraft noise. From the result, it can be concluded no circumstances, children with a migrant background are insensitive to noise. If only the children without a migration background, led an increase in the duration of the sound level by ten decibels (A) residue to a reading of 1.5 months. This means that the difference between the highest and the lowest exposed children in the study area was three months.
The quality of life of children in the Rhine-Main area
The NORAH scientists were interested not only for the reading performance, but also for the health quality of life of children. The questions they asked the children and their parents, concerned, for example, the quality of sleep or the psychological and physical well-being.
The results show that the quality of life of children in the study area is very high. However, the relatively highly contaminated with noise children and parents appreciated the health quality of life of children a slightly worse than the lightly loaded. The effect is small but statistically significant: With an increase in aircraft noise around ten decibels (A) the quality of life sank to the three- to five-point rating scales by an average of 0.1 scale points.
…… and there is a lot more here http://www.laermstudie.de/ergebnisse/ergebnisse-kinderstudie/auswirkungen-auf-die-lebensqualitaet/
Noise impact study NORAH
These are the questions the scientists of the study children investigated:
- Is there evidence of children in the Rhine-Main area, a harmful impact of aircraft noise on mental skills such as learning to read, linguistic skills, attention or memory?
- How exactly does the noise at the school to teach?
- How much does the noise the well-being of children in school and at home?
- How big is the impact of aircraft noise is compared to other factors?
Effects of aircraft noise on cognitive performance and quality of life in primary school children
Studies that have been carried out in other European airport locations since the 1990s, suggest that a continuous exposure (exposure) can adversely impact of aircraft noise on the mental development of children. These studies have consistently showed poorer reading skills in noise-exposed children; partially negative effects on memory and attention skills were reported.
However, these findings do not constitute evidence of a cause-and-effect relationship between aircraft noise and performance deficits. The cognitive development and academic performance of children are affected by many factors in the area of family background and education, related the part with the aircraft noise. In order to be able to perform any adverse noise-contaminated children causally related to the noise, this non-noise-related factors must be carefully controlled. This is often not carried out in the older studies sufficiently. In the planned children study the control of these factors close attention is paid to allow meaningful conclusions about the effects of noise on the child’s development.
Many papers, in German, on the study can be found at http://www.norah-studie.de/publikationen.epl
Slide presentation about the NORAH study here
CAA 2014 paper
Aircraft noise, sleep disturbance and health effects
The NORAH work in Germany is due to finish in 2015.
NORAH (Noise-Related Annoyance, Cognition and Health) study. This paper focused on blood pressure monitoring using telemedicine to investigate the association between blood pressure and aircraft, road and rail traffic noise.
The study examines health effects of transport noise around Frankfurt airport and contains three work packages:
WP1: Annoyance and HQoL (quality of life)
WP2: Health effects
WP3: Children’s learning
The study arose from a requirement to conduct a longitudinal study on aircraft noise and subsequent effects, and was started in 2011 with the first results expected in mid-2015.
The objectives are to identify potential risk factors for diseases, the relationship between exposure to aircraft noise and health outcomes, and the effect of aircraft noise on children’s learning and quality of life measures. The study incorporates a comparison of responses to transportation noise (aircraft, road and rail) and expanding (Frankfurt and Berlin) versus steady state airports (Cologne-Bonn and Stuttgart). CAP 1164 Chapter 3: European research June 2014 Page 24
The study is expected to provide several new insights, for example the change in aircraft noise exposure since previous studies, the comparison between different transportation noise sources, the relationship between noise level, annoyance and stress response and resulting impact on health. Exposure-relationship curves for awakenings have been produced by the DLR study team in 2001/2002 for Cologne-Bonn and this study aims to do the same for Frankfurt airport. This study will also examine if there is a change in sleep quality after a night flight ban from 2300-0500 at Frankfurt.
The health measures that are examined in this study include blood pressure monitoring to investigate the effect of changes of aircraft movements and noise, resulting in an exposure-relationship for cardiovascular disease and aircraft noise.
The analysis of health insurance data is incorporated combined with a case-control study including the assessment of individual risk factors of cardiovascular disease. Analysis of individual noise history, the impact of aircraft noise on children’s learning, phonological processing and nocturnal aircraft noise on cognitive performance is also included in the design of this study.
This presentation concerned the longitudinally designed blood pressure study, which aimed to analyse whether blood pressure as well as the risk of cardiovascular diseases in total is associated with aircraft noise exposure, road traffic and railway noise and whether the changes in the flight operations due to airport expansion correspond with changes in the average blood pressure over time. The study includes residents living within the 40 dB contour, and individual exposure includes Leq, Lmax and Nx (number of events above a specified level).
2000 participants were trained to assess their blood pressure in the morning and evening on 21 consecutive days, and complete questionnaire on cardiovascular risk factors. The same participants were asked to repeat the same measurements in the follow-up study one year later. Bluetooth was used to send the blood pressure measurements to a mobile phone, which is then used to forward the real-time measurements to a secure database.
The observation period for this study has just finished, so the results will be published in due course. The NORAH study is particularly interesting as it spans cardiovascular
effects, sleep disturbance and children’s cognition.
The NORAH study, a 3-years-monitoring program on transportation noise in the vicinity
of Frankfurt Airport and for comparison at three other German Airports,
started in April 2011. NORAH includes three work packages on noise annoyance,
HQoL, cardio-vascular health diseases (including hypertension) of adults, and cognition
and HQoL in children. As Frankfurt Airport is in a change situation (opening of a
new runway, implementation of several measures of active noise control) the specific
aim of NORAH is to study the aircraft noise effects over time (in relation to the effects
of noise from road and railway noise) under change condition.
NORAH includes cross-sectional, case-control and longitudinal sub-studies with a
wide range of methods for the assessment of the transportation noise effects in
adults and children: Interviews, psychological tests, physiological measurements,
and secondary data analysis combined with a case-control study. An interdisciplinary
team including scientists of acoustics, environmental and social medicine, epidemiology,
physics, psychology, and sociology has been formed to carry out this noise effect
The NORAH Study will be carried out from 2011 to 2014 by commission of the Environment
& Community Center / Forum Airport & Region, Kelsterbach, Germany.