Planes, trains and automobiles – and giant fans


Research links aircraft noise to higher rates of heart disease
The Sydney Morning Herald
11 October 2013
Amy Corderoy, Rachel Browne

Exposure to high levels of aircraft noise could put people at risk of developing heart disease and stroke, research has found.

The results underline the sensitivity around choosing the site for Sydney’s second airport, after the Abbott government indicated it would nominate Badgerys Creek.

The study of more than 3.6 million London residents has found those living in areas under flight paths that were most exposed to noise were up to 24 per cent more likely to be admitted to hospital from a stroke than people living in the quietest areas.

Experts say the stress caused by the loud plane noise could trigger a damaging nervous system response, causing the blood pressure and heart rate of people who are exposed to increase.

Planners must begin taking potential health risks into account when planning new airports or expansions in heavily populated areas, said Stephen Stansfeld, a professor of psychiatry of Queen Mary, University of London.

‘‘Aircraft noise exposure … may also increase morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular disease,’’ he wrote in an editorial in the British Medical Journal. ‘‘The results imply that the siting of airports and consequent exposure to aircraft noise may have direct effects on the health of the surrounding population.’’

Monash University senior research fellow Geza Benke said airport noise could trigger heart problems through increased stress causing high blood pressure, largely among people exposed to very high levels of noise within a three to four kilometre radius of an airport.

‘‘We also know that cardiovascular risk is increased in people exposed to traffic noise,’’ he said, adding the large numbers of people living near high traffic noise meant it was an even bigger problem.

However, Dr Benke cautioned it would be difficult to apply the Heathrow results to other places, particularly in Sydney where many houses had received free insulation, and fewer lower-income people lived under the flightpath.

The British Medical Journal study also found hospital admissions for coronary disease were increased 21 per cent, and cardiovascular disease 14 per cent. However, as the data simply linked rates of hospital admissions in neighbourhoods with aircraft noise, it was unable to identify if individual people who became unwell had other risk factors, such as being smokers.

Student Sandra Mahendra has been living with the regular roar of A380s and 747s since moving to Sydenham from Casula three months ago.

‘‘The noise is irritating, but it’s nowhere near as stressful as spending two hours commuting into the city from Casula,’’ she said.

The 26-year-old found the noise worst at night, even though her rented house has double glazing.

‘‘My mates and I like to watch a lot of films but it’s just impossible with the planes,’’ she said. ‘‘You have to keep rewinding every five minutes because you’ve missed a major plot point or simply pause it when you know a really noisy plane is about to come over.’’
The Sydney Morning Herald

The World Health Organisation has long recognised environmental noise as the leading cause of sleep deprivation – and that sleep deprivation is in and of itself an adverse health effect, which in turn, leads to a suite of ancillary health problems – see the Executive Summary at XI-XII of the WHO Night-time Noise Guidelines for Europe.

If planes, trains and automobiles cause problems, why would giant fans be any different?

Indeed, when a proper comparison is made the impact of incessant low-frequency noise and infrasound from giant fans has to be worse.

Planes pass overhead in a flash and they take their noise with them as they go.

In most major cities there is a curfew placed on Airports, so aircraft noise isn’t going to bother people in the wee-hours.

Trains pass pretty quickly and they do most of their work during the day-time.

And – simply because people tend to sleep at night – there is naturally less traffic on the roads and, therefore, less traffic noise after midnight.  With the exception of the odd heavy vehicle on the move, traffic noise becomes passing and periodic as the evening wears on.

Not so with giant industrial wind turbines.  They’re planted firmly in one spot (although their blades part company from time to time) and – because the wind tends to blow more often at night – they often run all night long. Check out a few dates on and see how wind power output tends to collapse in the daytime and increase at night-time, continuing through to the early morning.

If you’re unfortunate enough to be within roaring distance – which can be over 8km from 3MW turbines – like the hard working people at Macarthur, Waubra, Waterloo, Cape Bridgewater and Cullerin – then there is often no respite and a decent night’s sleep becomes the exception rather than the rule.

Plenty of these people describe the noise from giant fans as being like a plane overhead that never lands.

Cop an earful of this and see what you think.


6 thoughts on “Planes, trains and automobiles – and giant fans

  1. There is only one place for the industrial wind turbines, it is at the scrap metal dealer after they have been chopped up into pieces.

  2. “What? How dare STT compare aeroplanes with wind turbines!!! ”

    … and I hear voices from that religious gathering at Anemone Castle with a professor presiding over the congregation:

    “Blaspheme! Anathema! The infidels compared our most green-clean gods to those profane carbon emitting farting ducks!” etc. etc…

  3. Ah, but our friendly expert on everything, Mr Chapman, who lives near Sydney airport and tells us and everyone else that IWT’s are no worse than planes taking off and landing, so of course this report must be a load of old twaddle and the researchers are suffering from some mysterious disease called ‘nocebo’, or is it fear of the unknown, or maybe the so called denier campaigners have been spreading their lies? Hopefully Mr C will be onto it to before long so we can know his truth.

    1. Jackie, Chapman in his own words sleeps “like a baby”, despite all the train, traffic, and aeroplane noise – which largely stops after 11pm in the inner Sydney area… Thanks to all the motorways, I believe he is also now largely relieved on semi’s driving down his area of the Princes Highway.

      He also claims to play rock music loud enough to wake the dead. Here is a sample of his art:

      Don’t know whether he suffers from tinnitus, hearing impairment etc, but he certainly has selective hearing on some issues and total deafness on others.

      1. Save our Capes and, ….stop ’em rollin’ baby, rollin’!
        Happy chappy, fortunate to sleep like a baby at night isn’t he. Extensive studies are done on likely and well researched airport impacts and some small justice is served to nearby people with night-time curfews put in place. Here the intrusive noise hardly ever stops and I rarely have a full nights restorative sleep in my own bed due to turbine noise. Investigations of effects of long term turbine noise on us are taking too long and I continue to demand the right to have my health protected from industrial noise exposure. Proper independant noise monitoring without Company interference confirms noise problems at wind facilities…so why the inhumane, labelling ‘nocebo’ attack? Why the push for no setback from peoples homes? Every person in this country has the right to be heard without vilification or dehunanisation of the kind displayed by the Sydney sociologist. Wind facility neighbours have the right to an acceptable quality of life and should have the right of pursuit of any grievance and like any Australian citizen the right to equity and justice. To not be fobbed off, marginalised or defeated by these unethical and to use someone else’s word, thugs.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s