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Airports Give Kids Reading Problems

The noise from airports impairs children's reading ability and long-term memory, but at least some the effects are reversible. Scientists monitored reading, memory, attention and speech perception in schoolchildren before and after the opening of the new international airport nearby. Children between 8 and 12 who lived near the airport site were monitored six months before the new airport, and one and two years afterwards. The results showed that long-term memory, reading and speech perception were impaired in the children who were exposed to noise near the new airport, and the effects were even worse two years later. But the reading and long-term memory of the children living near the old airport, which closed when the new one opened, got better.

John Stewart, of the Noise Association, says, "It is the most convincing evidence yet that aircraft noise can be detrimental to children." Research also shows that chronic airport noise increases levels of stress hormones in children that affects their psychological well-being.

In October, 5,000 Japanese people living close to a U.S. military base near Tokyo won a noise pollution lawsuit against the Japanese government. They complained about high blood pressure and psychological suffering.

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