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Is exposure to airport noise associated with poor mental health in residents living close to the Belfast City Airport?

Research Overview

Environmental noise where you live, in particular aircraft noise, is known to be associated with poor physical health; i.e. living near an airport along a flight path is associated with increased blood pressure, sleep disturbance and risk of heart disease compared to those who live further from the airport. However, the association between aircraft noise and mental health is not well studied. Some studies suggest living in an area with high levels of aircraft noise is associated with increased use of anxiety medication whereas other studies find no association between noise and mental health. A recent exercise by Belfast city Airport measured noise levels around the airport over 92 days.  These levels can be mapped to show which areas around the airport are exposed to the highest levels of noise.


Benefit

With airport authorities increasingly requesting more runways or more flights, this research will help answer questions around how airport noise currently affects mental health.


More about the project

Environmental noise where you live, in particular aircraft noise, is known to be associated with poor physical health; i.e. living near an airport along a flight path is associated with increased blood pressure, sleep disturbance and risk of heart disease compared to those who live further from the airport. However, the association between aircraft noise and mental health is not well studied. Some studies suggest living in an area with high levels of aircraft noise is associated with increased use of anxiety medication whereas other studies find no association between noise and mental health. A recent exercise by Belfast city Airport measured noise levels around the airport over 92 days.  These levels can be mapped to show which areas around the airport are exposed to the highest levels of noise. By linking this modelled noise data to the 2011 Census we can determine if levels of aircraft noise are associated with poor self-reported mental or physical health. 

We will look at the health outcomes based on a questions in the 2011 Census asking “Do you have any of the following conditions which have lasted, or are expected to last, at least 12 months?” which includes identifying an emotional/psychological problem and physical ailments such as pain/mobility problems. With airport authorities increasingly requesting more runways or more flights, this research will help answer questions around how airport noise currently affects mental health.


Government departments

Belfast city Airport measured noise levels around the airport over 92 days.  These levels can be mapped to show which areas around the airport are exposed to the highest levels of noise. The modelled noise data will be linked to the 2011 Census. 


Date approved 

February 2016


Project team 

Dr Aideen Maguire (Queen's University Belfast)

Ms Catherine Newell (Queen's University Belfast)

Dr Dermot O'Reilly (Queen's University Belfast)

Dr David Wright (Queen's University Belfast)


Page last updated: 24/10/2017