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Aircraft Noise and Child Development: An Environmental Health Risk Assessment


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Group Presentation for the National Short Course in Environmental Health (cinducted by flinders University, but this session done as part of my MPH at Adelaide University). This presentation was the winning presentation for the year.

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Aircraft Noise and Child Development: An Environmental Health Risk Assessment

  1. 1. Aircraft Noise and Child Development: An Environmental Health Risk Assessment NSCEH Student Project Nov 2005
  2. 2. The Identified Issue <ul><li>Has aircraft noise affected, or likely to affect, the cognitive development of children, in a school of 200, located under the flight path? </li></ul><ul><li>If yes, what is the level of risk and what recommendations can be provided to the school population and authorities? </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Airport due for expansion </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Recent school academic results indicated a six month delay compared to state average </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Parents extremely concerned about test scores, and the potential impact of aircraft environmental noise on their children’s reading skills, attention, memory, thinking </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>ability and general health </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Risk Assessment undertaken by local scientists in </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>consultation with school, PTA and authorities </li></ul></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Process Undertaken <ul><li>Hazard Identification </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Noise health effects & researched evidence </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Dose Response </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Response of children to noise levels </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Exposure Assessment </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Means and level of exposure by the children </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Risk Characterisation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Integration of information to assess risk; explanation of confounders, uncertainties & limitations </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Risk Management & Communication </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Recommendations & communication plan </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. HAZARD IDENTIFICATION Aircraft Noise - affecting children's cognitive performance?
  5. 5. Adverse effect of noise……. ? <ul><li>WHO DEFINITION: </li></ul><ul><li>“ a change in the morphology and physiology of an organism that results in”: </li></ul><ul><li>Impaired functional capacity , or </li></ul><ul><li>Impaired capacity to compensate for additional stress , or </li></ul><ul><li>Increase in susceptibility of an organism to the harmful effects of other environmental influences . </li></ul><ul><li>This definition includes any temporary or long-term lowering of the physical, psychological or social functioning of humans or human organs.” </li></ul>
  6. 6. Health Effects from Noise <ul><li>Hearing </li></ul><ul><li>Annoyance </li></ul><ul><li>Sleep disturbance </li></ul><ul><li>Stress / Hormonal </li></ul><ul><li>Cardiovascular effect </li></ul><ul><li>Communication </li></ul><ul><li>Auditory discrimination </li></ul><ul><li>Speech perception </li></ul><ul><li>Sense of well-being </li></ul><ul><li>Concentration </li></ul><ul><li>Impairs cognitive performance </li></ul><ul><li>Reduce s task performance </li></ul><ul><li>Diminishes memory </li></ul><ul><li>Motivation </li></ul>
  7. 7. Comparative noise levels Quiet conversation 50 – 60d B( A ) Vacuum Cleaner 70 dB( A ) Aircraft 87 – 100d B(A) Take Off / Landing MP3 Headphones 94dB(A) Rock Band 120 – 150dB(A) 85dB(A)
  8. 8. Noise - Health Effects on Children <ul><li>Vulnerable group @ 5 – 11 years </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Critical stage in cognitive development. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Less coping mechanisms for additional stressors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>R eading and language acquisition – complex cognitive tasks </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Physiological and Psychological Effects </li></ul><ul><li>Noise affects the ability to perform complex cognitive tasks due to: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Communication - auditory discrimination & speech perception </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Distraction – sustained attention, memory and recall </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fatigue – sleep disturbance </li></ul></ul>“ reading, attention, problem solving and memory are most strongly affected by noise” (WHO)
  9. 9. Evidence – related studies <ul><li>Los Angeles Airport Study (Cohen et al, 1980, 1981) </li></ul><ul><li>New York Airport City (Evans & Maxwell, 1997) </li></ul><ul><li>Munich Airport Study (Evans et al, 1995; 1998) </li></ul><ul><li>Heathrow Studies (Haines et al, 2001 a,b,c; 2002) </li></ul><ul><li>“ Over 20 studies have reported that noise adversely affects children’s academic performance” </li></ul>Stansfield S (2004), ‘Review on state of the art in children and noise”, 3 rd International Conference on Children’s Health and the Environment, Centre for Psychiatry, Queen Mary University of London
  10. 10. DOSE RESPONSE Aircraft Noise - affecting children's cognitive performance?
  11. 11. Dose-response Table 1: Noise levels in a classroom below which health effects would not be expected Source: Berglund et al (1999) 35 Inside 50-55 Outside dBLA eq16hr, 6am-10pm Noise location
  12. 12. Source: Stansfeld et al (2005) Relationship of Test Scores to Noise
  13. 13. Source: Hygge, Evans and Bullinger (2002) Comparison of Test Scores pre/post Airport Closure (ie:Noise Removal)
  14. 14. <ul><li>“ Stimuli context effect” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Impact of noise range, duration and time between noise </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Annoyance with noise greater when exposed to loud noise intermittently, lesser when noise constant. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>(Aasvneg and Engdahl, 1999) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Aircraft noise levels above 50 dB (A) in a classroom can affect performance </li></ul>
  15. 15. EXPOSURE ASSESSMENT Aircraft Noise - affecting children's cognitive performance?
  16. 16. Exposure Assessment <ul><li>Exposure route is auditory </li></ul><ul><li>Disruption caused by aircraft is a key </li></ul><ul><li>factor in this issue </li></ul><ul><li>Health effects above 70db(A) </li></ul><ul><li>Range : between 85.7 - 100.8 dB(A) </li></ul>
  17. 17. Model representing noise effects noise exposure speech perception impaired reading predictor mechanism outcome
  18. 18. <ul><li>Exposure measured using noise loggers, questionnaires, tape recordings </li></ul><ul><ul><li>NB: Loggers require calibration, so data interpretation may also be influenced by position and other environmental noises (traffic, wind, playground) </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. RISK CHARACTERISATION Aircraft Noise - affecting children's cognitive performance?
  20. 20. <ul><li>Average number of flights/day = 19.5 (1/hr) </li></ul><ul><li>Aircraft noise impact ~ 15 sec/flight </li></ul>Relationship between Aircraft Noise Exposure Forecast (ANEF) Level and Community Reaction in Residential Areas (National Acoustic Laboratories Report No 88)
  21. 21. <ul><li>Increased air traffic has potential to adversely affect reading results, anxiety levels, affecting children, parents, school staff and other local population </li></ul>
  22. 22. <ul><li>Potential costs associated with long-term noise exposure include: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>remedial education, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>decreased cognitive development </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>decreased attention </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>health costs </li></ul></ul>Potential Costs
  23. 23. Risk Uncertainty <ul><li>Assumptions: </li></ul><ul><li>All flights pass over the school </li></ul><ul><li>Risk Assessment Limitations: </li></ul><ul><li>Interpretation of noise data-contribution affected by </li></ul><ul><li>noise logger location, and other noise sources </li></ul><ul><li>Questionnaires highly subjective </li></ul><ul><li>Data from one school (200 pupils) – no control </li></ul><ul><li>Climate - wind, humidity etc affect sound transmission </li></ul><ul><li>in the air </li></ul>
  24. 24. Risk Uncertainty <ul><li>Confounding Factors: </li></ul><ul><li>Unknown other factors include: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>socio-demographics, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>excess noise in home setting, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>other chemical/biological factors (eg: Pb), </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>children’s hyperactivity / developmental disability, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>teacher quality </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Other sources of environmental noise at the school </li></ul><ul><li>include road traffic, other classrooms </li></ul><ul><li>Flight paths are affected by wind direction </li></ul>
  25. 25. RISK MANAGEMENT Aircraft Noise - affecting children's cognitive performance?
  26. 26. Evidence Findings <ul><li>Sufficient evidence indicates that noise has a negative effect on cognitive performance. </li></ul><ul><li>However, it is uncertain whether the current school performance can be directly attributed to aircraft noise: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Existence of confounding factors and data limitations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A lack of control studies in the local situation and lack of evidence about prior test results </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Insufficient evidence on effects of combined noise (WHO) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Risk management is recommended to address relevant standards </li></ul>
  27. 27. Site Plan of St Stephens School Main South Road Henley Beach Road West Wing South Wing North Wing Hall 90d B A
  28. 28. Noise Control Recommendations Existing Noise Measurements 100dBA 90dBA AS2021-2000 Table 3.3 Design Noise Level = 50dBA Noise Level Measurements During Aircraft Flyover South Wing: 90dBA North Wing: 90dBA West Wing: 90dBA Hall: 95dBA Noise Levels while Semi-Trailer on South Road South : 75dBA North : 75dBA West: 85dBA Hall: 65dBA
  29. 29. Noise Control Recommendations 100dBA 50dBA 90dBA
  30. 30. Noise Control Data and Solution School & PTA $100/m 45 Single brick wall 115mm Thick rendered one side. Screen Wall Commonwealth Government Grant $150/ unit 35 Additional windows added to create double glazing, or replace existing windows and doors. Double Glazed Windows and Doors Commonwealth Government Grant $25/m 2 30 Acoustic frame consisting of insulation and battens Roof Insulation School & PTA $15/m 2 30 High Density Insulation Batts laid on existing ceiling Ceiling Insulation Responsibility $ ANR dBA Description Control
  31. 31. R isk Management & Communication <ul><li>Formation of an ad hoc group involving EPA, Health, AAL, Commonwealth Government, and school representatives. </li></ul><ul><li>Further monitoring to be co-ordinated by this group throughout the remediation process </li></ul><ul><li>Proposed communication strategy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Letter to parents informing them of school information session </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Notice of information evening to be advertised in community media </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>School information session to explain situation and future plans </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Parents to receive regular updates on remediation status of school </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fact sheet to be made available to media </li></ul></ul>
  32. 32. Questions? Team: Alison Jones, Xiao Liu Colin Marsh, Lester Nation Graham Ohmsen, Louise Miller-Frost, Barry Mortimer Peter Collins, Kirsten Supported by: Hannah Aumann and A/Prof Dino Pisaniello