Airport Noise, Sonic Booms, and Public Health 710314

Different adverse effects of noise are treated in the context of defining public health problems posed by exposure to sonic booms and to operational aircraft noise around airports. These aircraft sounds can affect states of social and mental well-being through masking speech communication or other desired sounds, disrupting behavior and subjective feelings, and interfering with needs for privacy, rest, and sleep. Such adverse effects fall short of what may be called mental disorders, but the long-term cumulative impact of these noise disturbances remains to be fully evaluated from the standpoint of mental as well as physical health.
There may, however, be some potential risk of hearing loss caused by the maximum current aircraft noise exposures in neighborhoods bordering airports. Evidence for other physical ailments connected with exposures to aircraft sounds intruding in airport communities is suggestive at present and requires more medical verification. The most pressing research needs are for retrospective and prospective studies of the physical and mental health status of communities subjected to different amounts of aircraft noise and sonic booms.


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