Law to abate helicopter noise exist, but gains are few

Photo credit: Cameron Casey

by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition, and Honorary Chair, Quiet American Skies

Readers of this site who are familiar with attempts to reduce helicopter noise, especially those who are exposed to this noise, will find this StreetsblogCal article by Kevin Duggan disappointing in that it concludes that attempts to lessen helicopter noise have not yet resulted in significant noise reduction. Duggan notes the roles of the different federal, state, and city government agencies in limiting helicopter traffic, especially nonessential trips, but concludes they have not taken significant action in cutting the number of helicopter trips. Yet, the number of noise complaints continue to soar.

Let us also remember, as Dugan points outs, that “[n]oise can have serious health effects.” In addition, certain helicopters “can emit around 45 times as much carbon dioxide per hour as the average car.”

Duggan quotes Adrian Benepe and Melissa Elstein of Stop the Chop NY/NJ who have been advocating a ban of nonessential helicopter trips for years. Duggan also quotes a representative of the helicopter industry who views helicopters as a “benefit for the city economy.”

I would suggest that when we consider the financial benefits of the aviation industry, we should also consider the costs of treating people who become physically and mentally ill from exposure to aircraft and helicopter noise. Who bears these costs? I believe we all do.

Two weeks ago, at a New York City Council hearing on limiting non-essential helicopters, I testified on the adverse mental and physical health effects of helicopter noise. Awaiting to hear the results of the bills introduced at that hearing. I know that the members of Stop the Chop NY/NJ will continue their work to limit helicopter use despite the fact that, as the article headline reads, “Laws to Tame Helicopters Struggle to Take Off.”

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