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Airport Noise Can Seriously Affect The Health And Psychological Well-Being OfChildren

ITHACA, N.Y. -- The constant roar from jet aircraft can seriously affect the health and psychological well-being of children, according to a new Cornell University study. The health problems resulting from chronic airport noise, including higher blood pressure and boosted levels of stress hormones, the researchers say, may have lifelong effects.

"This study is probably the most definitive proof that noise causes stress and is harmful to humans," says Gary Evans, a professor of design and environmental analysis in Cornell's College of Human Ecology. This is, he says, the first longitudinal study of noise and human beings to look at the same group of individuals before and after noise pollution.

Other studies have been cross sectional, comparing people exposed to noise to well-matched controls who were not subjected to noise. Evans, an environmental psychologist and an international expert on environmental stress (such as noise, crowding and air pollution) and his German and Swedish colleagues, Monika Bullinger and Staffan Hygge, respectively, reported their findings in the January issue of "Psychological Science", published by the American Psychological Association.

The researchers looked at 217 third- and fourth-grade children in rural areas 22 miles from Munich, Germany, before and after the opening of a new airport.

About half the children live in an area under the flight path of the new international airport; the others, who were matched for age, parental jobs, family size and socioeconomic status, live in quiet areas. The children were tested for blood pressure, stress hormone levels and quality of life six months before the airport was completed as well as six and 18 months after it opened.

The children in the chronic noise group experienced modest but significant increases in blood pressure and significant increases in stress hormones (epinephrine, norepinephrine and cortisol) while the children in the quiet areas experience
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Contact: Susan S. Lang
ss14@cornell.edu
607-255-3613
Cornell University News Service
4-Mar-1998


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