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Friday, June 14, 2024

Residents Nearby Brussels Airport Call for Investigations Related to Aircraft Noise Impact on Public Health

The Flemish Federation for a Better Environment (Bond Beter Leefmilieu) and other bodies are calling authorities to investigate the health risks to people residing near the airport.

According to the investigation, the health risks that threaten people living near the airport include the new environmental permit, and a path between low-noise and CO2-neutral operation, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

Bond Beter Leefmilieu has put light on this issue following the study conducted by ENV-ISA that proved that the health damage caused by flight noise had been underestimated. The study indicates that health costs for local residents would reach more than €1 billion every year.

According to Bond Beter Leefmilieu, ENV-ISA, 220,000 people living around the airport are affected by aircraft noise and about 109,000 people living in the neighborhood are disturbed during their sleep. Another 51,000 people are at risk of developing hypertension, and 2,000 people can be affected by heart diseases.

“Our body reacts autonomously to noise because we unconsciously associate the noise with danger. It [our body] goes into a state of defense, the so-called ‘fight-or-flight’ response,” Marc Goethals, a cardiologist at Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Hospital, explains.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has revealed the enormous health damage those living nearby can experience. The repeated exposure to night noises also disturbs essential functions of sleep, as the cardiologist pointed out, leading to reduced immunity against cancer and infections, gradual physical recovery and impacts memory functions and mental health.

Further calculations revealed that per night flight, an average of €36,000 in health damage is caused, but this does not include the costs of hospitalization and medication.

Brussels Airport Company has also shown weak attempts regarding the health of people living nearby and rather invests in solar panel parks and electrifying ground traffic, as Wouters pointed out. These initiatives have an importance to the environment but do not help in reducing the noises caused by aircraft.

Bond Beter Leefmilieu is reportedly working on a future plan for Brussels Airport together with the residents’ groups, which plans to significantly reduce damages to the health and environment affected by air traffic.

“All our discussion partners largely shared our concerns about the health damage caused by the airport and its air traffic. We therefore also call on Minister Demir to include in the new environmental permit a time-bound trajectory with binding conditions towards a low-noise and CO2-neutral operation of the airport,” Wouters noted.

The airport operator’s benefits have reached €93 million per year between 2016 and 2019, as the Federation data show. This profit does not necessarily go to the Brussels Airport – 75 percent of which is owned by foreign investment funds and pensions.

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