WYPR reports on BWI airport noise study

Photo credit: Craig James licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

The Public Broadcasting System provides an important news source for many communities, including the Baltimore, Maryland metropolitan area. Last month, WYPR broadcast this piece about a report prepared by faculty at the University of Maryland.

The report forecast an added medical cost burden of $800 million over the next 30 years for people living near Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport or under its flight paths.

One of the reports authors, Zafar Zafari PhD, said “The monetary estimates for these costs include direct medical costs of these conditions, like pharmacy, outpatient visits, doctor visits, emergency room visits and hospitalizations,” said Zafari. “Then we also included indirect costs, which includes loss of productivity because of these morbidities.”

The WYPR piece mentions the Federal Aviation Administration’s NextGen program, which is making air travel safer and more efficient by spacing airplanes more closely along specified flight paths, but NextGen has the unintended consequence of exposing those living under fight paths to concentrated aviation noise. This means sleep deprivation, disturbance of activity, non-auditory health effects of transportation noise such as cardiovascular disease and anxiety. The adverse health effects of aircraft noise are now well understood, and the scientific evidence is overwhelming and incontrovertible.

We hope WYPR’s reporting will help bring public attention and that of legislators and regulators to the important public health aspects of aviation noise exposure.

Thanks to Jesse Chancellor at the DC Metroplex BWI Community Roundtable for bringing the WYPR news coverage to our attention.

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