For the past month, the Briarwood community has been the victim of alternate air traffic route noise pollution (aircraft noise exceeding the 100 dB of “very loud,” according to Federal Agency Review of Selected Airport Noise Analysis Issues, Federal Interagency Committee on Noise, August 1992), which is especially acute with aircraft flights by the minute in the morning hours until noon.
Apparently, either there has been a permanent change in the regular air traffic routes or weather dependent utilization of alternate routes. In any case, the use of land routes as the primary mode of air traffic control, rather than ocean routes and noise abatement technologies, is a severe form of noise pollution, which has been documented in an earlier report, Noise: A Health Problem (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Noise Abatement and Control, August 1978).
Some significant points from this report are:
• “noise can produce serious physical and psychological stress. No one is immune to this stress”;
• “of the many health hazards related to noise, hearing loss is the most clearly observable and measurable by health professionals”;
• “noise that causes annoyance and irritability in healthy persons may have serious consequences for those already ill in mind or body”;
• “a growing body of evidence strongly suggests a link between exposure to noise and the development and aggravation of a number of heart problems. The explanation? Noise causes stress and the body reacts with increased adrenaline, changes in heart rate, and elevated blood pressure”;
• “noise can make it difficult to fall asleep, it can wake us, and it can cause shifts from deeper to lighter sleep stages. If the noise interference with sleep becomes a chronic problem, it may take its toll on health”;
• “the elderly and the sick are particularly sensitive to disruptive noise. As a group, the elderly require special protection from the noises that interfere with their sleep.”
Studies done at Cornell University on noise and stress, as early as 1998, have shown significant increases in stress hormones (epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisol) in children exposed to the “constant roar from jet aircraft.”
Therefore, in view of the abundant research studies proving that “noise is a significant hazard to public health,” I must adamantly oppose even temporary air traffic routes in the Briarwood airspace redesign. I suggest we discuss this issue at future town hall meetings to decide on an appropriate class action lawsuit against the FAA. William Dean Howells said, “it is truly a serious problem to escape from noise.” Next stop? Supreme Court.