The effect of F-35 aircraft noise on young children’s brains

Photo credit: Soly Moses

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

In the latest episode of Skywatch, a TV and online program that hopes to ground the F-35 training flights, Dr. Peter Bingham, who is well versed in pediatric neurology, spoke to the impacts of the F-36 noise on the brains of young children. Although loud overhead flights impact adversely on the health of adults, children’s brains are more vulnerable because they are still developing. This article by Dr. Bingham and James Marc Leas, one of the Skywatch hosts, points to the importance of the auditory brain in developing language skills and promoting learning. I can personally speak to the adverse effects of noise on learning, having conducted research that demonstrated that children in classrooms near noisy elevated trains were behind in reading by as much as one year by the sixth grade.

Leas and Bingham compare exposure to noise to exposure to lead that was identified sixty years ago. Lead was seen as intrusive in learning and the development of children and actions were taken. Now, we have children exposed to F-35 aircraft noise and this, too, calls for action. The brain we know has a critical time of development and it is imperative that children be provided with the best environment so that the brain can develop to its maximum.

Then what can be done to restrict the adverse effects of the F-35 aircraft and protect the children? Leas and Bingham believe local city councils can “put a stop to the F-36 training” and cites an example of how Vermont had passed a law that delegated the power to regulate the operation of vehicles throughout the state to protect the health and well-being of citizens. Leas and Bingham state that the Federal Aviationa Administration does not regulate noise of military aircraft, and they note that the ordinances could be passed by the local Vermont governments because the state delegated the authority to regulate the use and operation of all vehicles to them.

Leas and Bingham’s article calls for the need to protect our children from the dangers of noise. Nearly 50 years ago when I found that noise intruded on the learning ability of children, action was taken to lessen the noise of the loud passing trains and this resulted in the children’s classroom learning improving. If New York City could respond so quickly then based on one academic study, one would think that today with the growing body of literature speaking to the adverse effects of noise on children, actions could most certainly be taken to lessen noise impacts on children’s health and development.

Share this article:

Article Categories

Search Articles