Aircraft noise and mental health: I. Prevalence of individual symptoms

Psychol Med. 1980 Nov;10(4):683-98. doi: 10.1017/s0033291700054982.


A domiciliary survey (sample size circa 6000) was conducted in areas of different aircraft noise exposure affected by London (Heathrow) Airport. Respondents were urban dwellers age 16+. Since no differences were found in the prevalence of manifest psychiatric disorders, the frequency of 27 individual acute and chronic symptoms was investigated. Many acute symptoms showed an increase with noise, and this was particularly evident for waking at night, irritability, depression, difficulty in getting to sleep, swollen ankles, burns/cuts/minor accidents, and skin troubles. Two chronic symptoms, tinnitus and ear problems, showed evidence of an increase with noise, while most other chronic symptoms were more common in low noise conditions. Results are controlled for the effects of age, sex and other standard epidemiological variables. Irrespective of their association with noise, most symptoms, chronic and acute, were more frequent among those respondents who also reported high annoyance. Suggestions for the analysis of surveys of health effects by noise are put forward.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents
  • Acute Disease
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aircraft*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Depression / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / etiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Noise*
  • Noise, Transportation*
  • Sex Factors
  • Skin Diseases / etiology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / etiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tinnitus / etiology