The Cost-Effectiveness of Lowering Permissible Noise Levels Around U.S. Airports

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2017 Dec 2;14(12):1497. doi: 10.3390/ijerph14121497.


Aircraft noise increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases and mental illness. The allowable limit for sound in the vicinity of an airport is 65 decibels (dB) averaged over a 24-h 'day and night' period (DNL) in the United States. We evaluate the trade-off between the cost and the health benefits of changing the regulatory DNL level from 65 dB to 55 dB using a Markov model. The study used LaGuardia Airport (LGA) as a case study. In compliance with 55 dB allowable limit of aircraft noise, sound insulation would be required for residential homes within the 55 dB to 65 dB DNL. A Markov model was built to assess the cost-effectiveness of installing sound insulation. One-way sensitivity analyses and Monte Carlo simulation were conducted to test uncertainty of the model. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of installing sound insulation for residents exposed to airplane noise from LGA was $11,163/QALY gained (95% credible interval: cost-saving and life-saving to $93,054/QALY gained). Changing the regulatory standard for noise exposure around airports from 65 dB to 55 dB comes at a very good value.

Keywords: aircraft noise; cost-effectiveness; regulatory change; sound insulation.

MeSH terms

  • Aircraft*
  • Airports*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis*
  • Markov Chains
  • Models, Economic
  • New York City
  • Noise, Transportation / prevention & control*
  • Quality-Adjusted Life Years