Recommended Reading

Two articles on the negative impacts of lead poisoning

Black Lead Matters by New York Times columnist, Paul Krugman. This 9/2/16 article explores environmental justice inequalites in relation to the ongoing history and partisan politics of lead poisoning in America.
New York Times, Sep 2, 2016.

The Unfriendly Skies by MIT News reports on the findings of a study by an MIT research team on the cost of IQ loss resulting from piston-engine aircraft. As noted in the report, general aviation activity is the largest source of lead emissions in the U.S. and as such "may pose a significant health risk." Per the 8/24/16 article,

"Those exposed to low levels of lead, especially children, have been shown to suffer neurological and cognitive impairment, including IQ loss...The team found that each year, these IQ losses result in about $1 billion in damages from lifetime earnings reductions, with an additional $0.5 billion in economy-wide losses due to decreases in labor productivity."

MIT News, Aug 24, 2016.

Lead emissions at 20,000 U.S. airports threaten community health

Friends of the Earth, an environmental advocacy group that has long been in the forefront of efforts to eliminate leaded aviation fuel, recently released a report entitled Myths and Realities of Leaded Aviation Fuel, which catalogues the current use of leaded aviation fuel, or "avgas," by piston-engine aircraft such as small propeller planes and some helicopters, the gaps in regulations, and proposed policy solutions. Unleaded aviation gasoline has been FAA approved and available for use since the 1980s, but airplanes at 20,000 U.S. airports still emit toxic lead.
Friends of the Earth, Sept 1, 2016.

Stop Aviation Noise Intrusions: File Complaints, Demand Action

As discussed in this posting, the response to valid community concerns regarding aviation noise pollution is routinely deflected, ignored and minimized in an effort to promote aviation interests over the greater good. Oregon Aviation Watch developed a noise complaint form which will be sent to the government agencies, municipalities and educational institutions that are either causing the problem and/or those that are neglecting their responsibility to correct it. "Stop Aviation Noise Intrusions: File Complaints, Demand Action" Oregon Aviation Watch, Aug 20, 2015

Whistleblower Reveals Wanton Disregard for Safety by Oregon Helicopter Spray Operator

Aviation Impact Reform reports on a helicopter operator who sprays weed killer with an alarming disregard for health and safety. "Whistleblower Reveals Wanton Disregard for Safety by Oregon Helicopter Spray Operator" aiREFORM.com, May 23, 2015

Oregon Public Broadcasting Report on Leaded Aviation Fuel and EPA Delay of Endangerment Finding

Visit Opponents of Leaded Aviation Fuel Could Be In For a Long Wait for an audio and written report on leaded aviation fuel and the recent decision by the EPA to delay an endangerment finding. It is authored by Oregon Public Broadcasting reporter Anthony Schick who can be reached at:

Anthony Schick
Reporter, Oregon Public Broadcasting
Desk: 503-293-1931 | Cell: 503-329-7962
email: aschick@opb.org | twitter: @tonyvschick

Three Articles on Leaded Aviation Fuel

The following link is to a 2/5/15 Oregonian article Hillsboro Airport Committee Urges Port of Portland to Facilitate Sale of Unleaded Fuel by Luke Hammill http://www.oregonlive.com/hillsboro/index.ssf/2015/02/hillsboro_airport_committee_ur.html.

An analysis by Jeff Lewis of a recently released assessment on the economic feasibility of providing an unleaded aviation fuel option "mogas" at the Hillsboro Airport can be accessed at Aviation Impact Reform, http://aireform.com/analysis-the-mogas-study-at-khio-by-kb-environmental-sciences/.

According to an informative 5/20/14 article by Chicago Tribune reporter Michael Hawthorne entitled Aviation: Last Major Source of Toxic Lead in U.S.:

"Leaded gasoline is such a well-known scourge that automotive fuel made with the brain-damaging additive is still sold in only six countries: Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Myanmar, North Korea and Yemen...But one industry stubbornly remains a holdout in the decades long push for a lead-free America. Piston-engined aircraft, which take off from airports large and small in every state, still run on leaded aviation fuel known as avgas. As pollution from other sources has sharply declined, the general aviation fleet of 167,000 aircraft has become the nation's top source of airborne lead, emitting nearly 500 tons a year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Lead particles from airplane exhaust tend to be concentrated close to airports, but they also fall widely during flight. About 16 million people live and 3 million children go to school within a half-mile of an airport where leaded avgas is sold, the EPA estimates. Most are from low-income, minority households that already face increased health risks from exposure to lead paint."

To access the full article click on http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-05-20/news/ct-leaded-gas-planes-met-20140520_1_airborne-lead-avgas-lead-emissions.

Oregonian Report on the Hillsboro Airport and Lead Emissions

An article by Luke Hammill on lead emissions at the Hillsboro Airport (HIO) entitled Airport Spews Half Ton of Lead in 2011, Critics Say It's Too Much was published in the Hillsboro Argus on 10/1/14. A shorter version, Aim for Hillsboro Airport: Get the Lead Out was printed in the 10/1/14 Oregonian Metro section. The report, which initially appeared on-line on 9/24/14, is available here: Hillsboro Airport is Oregon's poster child for national problem: Getting leaded fuel out of planes.

As noted by Hammmill, "Hillsboro Airport is the leading facility source of lead in Oregon." According to EPA documentation HIO ranks in the top one percent, 21st nationwide, among nearly 20,000 airports in lead emissions. The vast majority of flights in and out of HIO are training operations that continue to rely on leaded fuel. Port of Portland and FAA documentation released in February, 2014 projected that lead emissions at this facility will increase from the 2007 level of 0.7 tons per year (as noted by the Port in the initial environmental assessment on the third runway) to 0.8 (tpy) by 2016 and 0.9 tpy by 2021.

Due to various shortcomings, Oregon Aviation Watch believes that the Port significantly underestimated lead emissions at HIO and has strongly urged that monitoring equipment be placed at, and in the vicinity of, this airport to determine actual rather than estimated lead emissions. Oregon Aviation Watch further supports a comprehensive lead study designed specifically to measure lead emissions at HIO - one that includes adherence to EPA guidelines, substantive public input, and an unbiased third party analysis.

Currently, Port estimates are based on a September 2010 study performed by a private consultant hired by the Port. The study lacked peer review, scientific rigor, public participation, and EPA involvement. Since the Port makes money off every gallon of fuel sold at HIO, their findings and estimates represent an inherent conflict of interest.

Conservation Groups To Sue EPA Over Aircraft Carbon Emissions

This August 5, 2014 press release announces that Friends of the Earth and the Center for Biological Diversity, represented by Earthjustice, filed a notice of intent to sue the EPA for its failure to reduce greenhouse gas pollution:

Conservation Groups Launch Legal Challenge to Cut Carbon Pollution from Aircraft | Earthjustice

The Dangers of Private Planes

According to a 7/16/14 New York Times Opinion piece by Damian Fowler, The Dangers of Private Planes,

“The National Transportation Safety Board found that in 2011, 94 percent of fatal aviation accidents occurred in what's called general aviation. That category includes private small planes flown by amateurs as well as professionally piloted corporate flights in high-powered aircraft, such as the Gulfstream IV jet that crashed in May in Bedford, Mass., killing all seven people on board. By contrast, commercial aviation had no fatal accidents that year. Statistics from the N.T.S.B. show that general aviation aircraft average nearly seven accidents per 100,000 flight hours, compared with an average of 0.16 accidents per 100,000 hours for commercial airlines.”

The author further points out that,

“There is currently no federal requirement that the owner or pilot of a private aircraft carry insurance to cover injuries to passengers or a third party on the ground. While some states do require this, the regulatory environment is an inconsistent patchwork.”

Emergency Landing on Florida Beach Kills Beachgoer

U.S. Army Sergeant and His Daughter Die After Being Struck by Piper Cherokee

This 7/27/14 CNN article, Emergency Landing on Florida Beach Kills Beachgoer by Janet DiGiacomo, describes how a man was killed and his daughter was critically injured when a 1972 Piper Cherokee crashed into them. The pilot of the aircraft and his passenger escaped without injury.

A 7/29/14 Latino Fox News article, 9-Year-Old Girl in Florida Beach Plane Crash Dies of Injuries a Day After Dad's Death, reported that the daughter later died from injuries sustained as a result of the accident.

SeaPort Airlines Still Flying at Public Expense

Once again SeaPort Airlines is in the news for flying publicly subsidized flights sometimes in empty or near empty planes. In a July 10, 2014 article, Critics Want These Subsidized Flights to Eastern Oregon Town Canceled, KATU news reporter Steve Dunn notes that SeaPort receives a government payout of $849 each time its 9-passenger Cessna flies between Portland and Pendleton, even if the plane has no passengers. This translates into a federal subsidy of $1.8 Million annually.

Three years ago the Oregonian published an article by Lori Tobias on a 2011 decision to cancel federal and state subsidized SeaPort flights between Portland and Salem, Newberg, and Astoria. The federal dollars lavished on Seaport for these operations were supplemented by a controversial $3.5 Million Connect Oregon grant. For additional details see SeaPort Airlines cancels service to Newport, Salem starting next Monday.

Study Finds Elevated Levels of Particulates More Than 10 Miles from LAX

By Miki Barnes, LCSW, President of Oregon Aviation Watch
June 27, 2014

A May 2014 study published in the Environmental Science and Technology Journal found an at least 2-fold increase in particle numbers (PN) 10 miles downwind of Los Angeles Airport (LAX) and a 4-5 fold increase 5-6 miles downwind. "These results suggest that airport emissions are a major source of PN in Los Angeles that are of the same general magnitude as the entire urban freeway network. They also indicate that air quality impact areas of major airports may have been seriously underestimated."

Click on the links below to access the full report and to read the press release issued by the University of Southern California on this topic.

USC News, New Concerns Raised About Air Pollution at LAX

Environmental Science and Technology Journal, Emissions from an International Airport Increase Particle Number Concentrations 4-fold at 10 km Downwind

The excerpt below, on the health impacts of particulate matter, is from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website, Health and Environmental Effects of Particulate Matter (PM):

The size of particles is directly linked to their potential for causing health problems. Small particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter pose the greatest problems, because they can get deep into your lungs, and some may even get into your bloodstream.

Exposure to such particles can affect both your lungs and your heart. Numerous scientific studies have linked particle pollution exposure to a variety of problems, including: premature death in people with heart or lung disease, nonfatal heart attacks, irregular heartbeat, aggravated asthma, decreased lung function, and increased respiratory symptoms, such as irritation of the airways, coughing or difficulty breathing.

People with heart or lung diseases, children and older adults are the most likely to be affected by particle pollution exposure.

Safety Last

By Miki Barnes, LCSW, President of Oregon Aviation Watch
June 21, 2014

On 6/18/14, USA Today published a report by Thomas Frank entitled, Safety Last: Lies and Cover-ups Mask Roots of Small-Plane Carnage: Hidden Defects Linked to Small Aircraft Crashes Over Five Decades.

According to an excerpt from Chapter 1 of the article,

“Nearly 45,000 people have been killed over the past five decades in private planes and helicopters —almost nine times the number that have died in airline crashes—and federal investigators have cited pilots as causing or contributing to 86% of private crashes. But a USA TODAY investigation shows repeated instances in which crashes, deaths and injuries were caused by defective parts and dangerous designs, casting doubt on the government's official rulings and revealing the inner workings of an industry hit so hard by legal claims that it sought and won liability protection from Congress.

Wide-ranging defects have persisted for years as manufacturers covered up problems, lied to federal regulators and failed to remedy known malfunctions, USA TODAY found. Some defective parts remained in use for decades—and some are still in use—because manufacturers refused to acknowledge or recall the suspect parts or issued a limited recall that left dangerous components in hundreds of aircraft.

The manufacturers involved paid hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements that received little or no public attention until now and that need not be disclosed to federal regulators. In addition, civil-court judges and juries have found major manufacturers such as Cessna Aircraft, Robinson Helicopter, Mitsubishi Aircraft, Bell Helicopter and Lycoming Engines liable for deadly crashes, ordering them to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in compensatory and punitive damages.”

The second chapter points out that the accident rate for general aviation aircraft is around 40 times higher than passenger airline flights.

“No other country experiences anything similar. The U.S. has more than twice as many general-aviation aircraft as every other nation combined and is home to leading manufacturers and a powerful lobby, which persuaded Congress in 1994 to bar injury and death claims involving aircraft and parts that are more than 18 years old. That is significant protection: Roughly three-quarters of the nation's 220,000 general-aviation aircraft are more than 18 years old.”

A section entitled, Figuring the Value of Human Life explores the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) failure to invest in protective safety standards:

“The FAA's resistance to some safety features has compounded a major problem with the nation's roughly 220,000 general-aviation aircraft: Many are decades old. The average single-engine airplane registered with the FAA was built 41 years ago, long before many safety features were invented. Roughly 50,000 of the aircraft were built more than a half-century ago, federal records show.”

Three Links Regarding the EPA Leaded Avgas Petition

By Miki Barnes, LCSW, President of Oregon Aviation Watch
May 20, 2014

Below are three links to articles related to the 4/21/14 petition submitted by the Friends of the Earth, Physicians for Social Responsibility and Oregon Aviation Watch urging the U.S. Environmental Agency (EPA) to issue an endangerment ruling as a first step towards removing lead from aviation fuel. The press release on this action is available at Groups press EPA to address toxic lead air pollution from aviation gasoline.

On 5/20/14 the Chicago Tribune posted Aviation Last Major Source of Toxic Lead in the U.S. Per the author, Michael Hawthorne, "Unlike many other pollutants, lead doesn't break down over time and can linger for years in the top few inches of soil." He further noted that,

Studies show that lead is even more dangerous than previously thought. Even tiny amounts in young children can trigger learning disabilities, aggression and criminal behavior later in life, findings that are drawing closer scrutiny of the last sources of lead and raising new concerns about the thousands of pounds deposited into the environment during the last century.

Researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have found that airborne lead particles tend to spike on weekends, likely from recreational flights.

Please note that the caption beneath the photo in the article is misleading. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has stated its intent to identify a replacement for leaded aviation fuel, also known as avgas, by 2018 but has not yet set a time table for phasing out leaded fuel. Indeed some pilots insist that their aircraft cannot fly without avgas.

The full article can be accessed at Aviation last major source of toxic lead in U.S..

A 4/25/14 article by the Huffington Post, Many Small Planes Still Run On Toxic Lead Fuel, And That Risks the Health of Millions sheds light on the harmful effects and costs of lead exposure. According to the author, Lynne Peeples:

The consequences of lead in the blood can be subtle. Reduce a child's IQ by five points, for example, and the child might be just a little slower to learn, a little shorter of attention, a little less in control of behavior and a little less successful on tests and at work. The kid's parents may never know the difference, but economists estimate that such a deficit could equate with $90,000 in lost lifetime earnings. Add that up across an affected population, and the toll of low-grade lead poisoning can be huge -- from that lost productivity to the costs of special education, incarceration and medical bills for a range of potential long-term health effects such as reproductive problems, cardiovascular disease and cancers.

The full article can be accessed at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/25/lead-fuel-airplanes_n_5213153.html.

A 4/22/14 article from the Independent European Daily Express entitled U.S. Urged to Tackle Lead in Aviation Fuel notes that, "The United States is one of the few countries that continue to allow the use of lead in aviation gasoline."

As stated in the report:

Few other countries continue to use leaded avgas, though Algeria, Iraq and Yemen did still do so as of late last year. The United States is not only the world's most prominent laggard in this regard, but also by far avgas's largest user.

Smaller aircraft tend to fly much lower to the ground than jet airliners, and hence their emissions can have a much more pronounced, immediate effect on human health (jet fuel is already lead-free). Further, lead stays in the environment for a long time, leading to "legacy lead" already left over from decades' use of leaded gasoline and paint.

Meanwhile, the global drawdown in the use of leaded fuel has resulted in benefits of some 2.5 trillion dollars a year, according to United Nations estimates from 2011. That study found that the economic benefits of this phase-out, primarily in terms of public health, outweighed the costs by 10 times.

Hillsboro Airport Third Runway in the News

By Miki Barnes, LCSW, President of Oregon Aviation Watch
May 13, 2014

According to a 5/9/14 Hillsboro Tribune article, Watchdog Group Files New Runway Appeal, the Port of Portland has announced its intent to move forward with constructing a third runway at the Hillsboro Airport despite the fact that a petition for review was filed by Oregon Aviation Watch (OAW) challenging the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI).

The Hillsboro Airport (HIO) has been in existence since 1928. Over the past 84 years it has grown from a grassy airstrip to a 900 acre airport. In 2013 HIO logged more operations than any other airport in the state, including PDX. Yet despite this growth, an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) has never been completed at this airport. In the interest of the public health and welfare, Oregon Aviation Watch is advocating for a cessation of further growth at HIO pending an EIS. Even without the addition of a third runway, this airport is the largest facility source of lead and a number of other air toxics in Washington County. Incessant noise intrusions from the excessive amount of flight training and other aviation activity throughout the region is also eroding livability in Hillsboro and the surrounding area.

Earthjustice on Lead Emissions and Social Justice

By Miki Barnes, LCSW, President of Oregon Aviation Watch
May 4, 2014

On 2/28/14, Alok Disa, an Earthjustice Litigation Assistant, submitted testimony entitled “Air Quality Impacts of Lead Emissions from Aircraft in NYC Environmental Justice Communities” at a New York City Council committee hearing on environmental protection. The focus of the proceedings was on the disproportionate impact of air pollution on low income communities and people of color.

The presenter, who spoke on behalf of Earthjustice, points out that leaded aviation fuel is responsible for more than half of the lead in the air today and further explains that, "Of the 21 areas in the U.S. currently in non-attainment for the national air quality standards for lead, all have at least one airport servicing aircraft using leaded avgas, and most have several such facilities." Mr. Disa stated that there are 6 airports in New York City that use leaded aviation fuel - LaGuardia, East 34th Street Heliport, JFK International, Pan Am Metroport Heliport, Downtown Manhattan Heliport, and New York Skyports Seaplane Base. According to estimates, these 6 facilities, combined, release 0.7 tons of lead into the air each year.

The testimony emphasized that "Lead is a toxin that can impair almost every system in the body" and further stated that "there is no safe level of exposure...even trace amounts of lead in the bloodstream can be linked to negative health outcomes." Mr. Disa also noted that both the CDC and the EPA recommend a preventive approach to addressing lead poisoning before it occurs since the adverse impacts are believed to be irreversible.

Additional critical points that were discussed included a Korean study that found elevated blood lead levels among workers at airports where leaded fuel is used and recent findings that 1 in every 38 U.S. children have lead poisoning.

A video recording of the 2/28/14 New York City hearing on air quality is available NYC Council: Committee on Environmental Protection, 2/28/2014: Video. Alok Disa's testimony can be viewed at 3:09:30 to 3:13:30 on the video. Please see Earthjustice Testimony before NYC Council 2-28-2014 to access a full copy of the written testimony.

Earthjustice is a non-profit public interest law organization dedicated to defending the right of all people to a healthy environment. It is currently representing Friends of the Earth, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and Oregon Aviation Watch in a petition asking the Environmental Protection Agency to issue a finding that lead emissions from piston-engine aircraft contribute to lead pollution and may endanger the public health and welfare. The press release on the petition is available at Groups Press EPA to Address Toxic Lead Air Pollution.

IARC: Outdoor Air Pollution a Leading Environmental Cause of Cancer Deaths

By Miki Barnes, LCSW, President of Oregon Aviation Watch
April 27, 2014

An October 17, 2013 press release by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) revealed their finding of a positive association between outdoor air pollution and cancer. The IARC is a part of the World Health Organization.

According to the release, “The air we breathe has become polluted with a mixture of cancer-causing substances, says Dr Kurt Straif, Head of the IARC Monographs Section. We now know that outdoor air pollution is not only a major risk to health in general, but also a leading environmental cause of cancer deaths.”

For more details, see the IARC press release.

# # #

The release identified transportation as one of the predominant sources of air pollution.

It is worth noting that a review of the 2011 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) National Emissions Inventory (NEI) on Toxic Emissions listed Hillsboro Airport (HIO) and other Washington County airports as significant sources of pollution.

Hillsboro Airport (HIO) is the biggest offender. This facility, which logs close to a quarter million take-offs and landings each year, the majority of which are student pilot training operations, is proposing to add a third runway, one that has the potential to double the airport's capacity. Even at current levels without the expansion, HIO is the largest facility source of lead pollution in Oregon. It ranks 21st in the nation, among nearly 20,000 airports in lead emissions. HIO is the largest facility source in Washington County of acrolein, 1,3 butadiene, ethyl benzene, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, organic carbon particulate matter 2.5, elemental carbon particulate matter 2.5, and carbon monoxide. HIO is the second largest source in Washington County of nitrous oxide, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter 2.5 emissions, surpassed only by Stimson Lumber in Gaston, Oregon. HIO is the third largest source in Washington County of volatile organic compounds, surpassed only by Stimson Lumber in Gaston and DMH Inc. in Forest Grove. Other airports in Washington County are also sources of these toxins including, but not limited to, Stark's Twin Oaks, Skyport, North Plains Gliderport, Sunset Airpark, and Olinger Residential Airpark. All of these airports are located within less than 8 miles of the Hillsboro Airport, which further concentrates the pollution burden on Washington County residents. In addition, flights from airports in neighboring jurisdictions such as Scappoose Industrial Airpark in Columbia County and McMinnville Airport in Yamhill County also train and engage in recreational flying over the area.

These finding suggest that federal, state and local policies promoting airport growth and expansion on behalf of the flight training industry, recreational pilots and corporate interests, represents an assault on the health and well-being of the community.

1 in 38 Young Children in U.S. Have Lead Poisoning

By Miki Barnes, LCSW, President of Oregon Aviation Watch
April 17, 2014

A 4/4/13 USA Today article by Alison Young, "Lead Poisoning Toll Revised to 1 in 38 Young Kids," reports that approximately 535,000 U.S. children between the ages of 1 and 5 are estimated to have elevated and potentially harmful levels of lead in their bodies. Spurred on by mounting concerns and conclusive medical evidence about the damaging effects of lead even at very low levels, in 2012 the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) lowered the acceptable level of lead in a child's blood from 10 to 5 micrograms per deciliter while at the same time warning that there is no safe level of lead in a child's blood. As a result of this change, estimates now indicate that far more children are exposed to health threatening levels of lead. The damaging impacts of this neurotoxin and probable carcinogen are believed to be irreversible and can affect every organ in the body. In children lead is associated with lower IQs and attention deficits as well as behavior and learning problems. Lead exposure in adults is linked with cardiovascular disease, kidney disorders, dementia, and increased violence.

In addition, lead poisoning is a social justice issue. According to the CDC, children living in poverty and people of color are at higher risk of lead exposure than other populations.

The largest emission source of airborne lead in the U.S. is piston-engine general aviation aircraft. According to the 2011 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) National Emissions Inventory (NEI), the Hillsboro Airport is the top facility source of lead in Oregon. Vulnerable children and other residents who reside in Hillsboro and the surrounding area are exposed to at least 0.7 tons per year from this airport alone during the landing and take-off cycle. Additional lead is released during the cruise phase. Of the 22 sources of lead in Washington County listed in the 2011 EPA NEI - all but one are airports.

Despite the extensive documentation on the pernicious effects of lead poisoning and exposure, the federal government cut crucial funding necessary to establish testing, prevention and treatment programs.

Read more about these issues at the links below.

Secrets of Sound Health

February 12, 2014

"Secrets of Sound Health" appeared in the Winter 2014 issue of Harvard Public Health Magazine. In addition to identifying a correlation between aircraft noise and cardiovascular disease, the article addresses the impact of noise on the human body.

"What happens to the body under the onslaught of noise? It reacts with a fight-or-flight response. Blood pressure rises, heart rate accelerates, stress hormones surge. All of these conditions can be precursors to cardiovascular disease. Even at levels not harmful to hearing, our bodies subconsciously perceive noise as a danger signal - including when we are fast asleep. Likewise, our physiology is triggered even though we may have become mentally acclimated to the sonic intrusion."

The article includes a quote from William Stewart who served as the U.S. Surgeon General in the 1960's, "Calling noise a nuisance is like calling smog an inconvenience. Noise must be considered a hazard to the health of people everywhere,"

Secrets of Sound Health
from Harvard Public Health Magazine

Growing up, Francesca Dominici lived about a mile from Ciampino Airport, the second busiest in Rome. As she remembers it, the greatest nuisance from the roar of aircraft over her home was that she couldn't hear her friends when talking on the phone.

Fast forward a few decades. Now professor of biostatistics and senior associate dean for research at Harvard School of Public Health, Dominici is a renowned expert in analyzing huge data sets to ferret out hidden environmental causes of disease. And her latest finding, published in October 2013 in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), has reverberated across the field.

With co-author Jonathan Levy, AB '93, SD '99, professor of environmental health at Boston University School of Public Health, Dominici found that elderly individuals who live along the noisiest flight paths near airports have a higher risk of being admitted to the hospital for cardiovascular disease. Specifically, she estimated a 3.5 percent increase in the cardiovascular hospitalization rate for every 10-decibel (dB) increase in airport-related noise. She also saw a strong association between noise exposure and cardiovascular hospitalizations in zip codes with noise exposures greater than 55 decibels, but no association in zip codes with exposures less than 55 decibels. READ MORE...

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