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NewsHealth

North Shore aircraft noise poses health threat, pols say

Elaine Miller, who lives on Nassau Avenue in

Elaine Miller, who lives on Nassau Avenue in Malverne, says that frequent episodes of loud airplane noise over her house keep her from sleeping and cause her stress. Photo Credit: Chuck Fadely

State Sen. Jack Martins and North Hempstead Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth have renewed calls to the Federal Aviation Administration to redirect airplane traffic and address aircraft noise thresholds over Nassau’s North Shore, saying inaction threatens residents’ health.

Noise pollution is a continued concern, with many Nassau residents complaining that the FAA’s implementation of Nextgen, a GPS-based tracking system that allows planes to fly closer together, has increased the jet noise above their homes. Last summer, five noise monitors were installed throughout Nassau County. Residents say they regularly see the readings top the limit of 65 decibels, which is equivalent to the noise from a typewriter against your ear.

“Persistent aircraft noise is not merely an annoyance, it is hazardous to our health,” Bosworth wrote in a letter to the agency. She noted a 2013 Harvard School of Public Health study which found that living near an airport can result in an almost 4 percent higher hospital admission rate for cardiovascular issues.

Martins (R-Old Westbury), who is running for Rep. Steve Israel’s (D-Huntington) congressional seat, called for the FAA to reduce the maximum noise threshold by 10 points, a step Bosworth also suggested in a recent letter to FAA administrator Michael Huerta.

Martins said the issue is that the FAA employs a different metric to assess noise pollution, which fails to capture the real impact on a community. The FAA uses day to night sound level averages called DNL. The use of this 24-hour average obscures the repetitive noise residents experience, he said.

“This doesn’t reflect the frequency of repetitive noise flying over houses,” Martins said. “It seems to allow greater intrusion into our communities.”

Nassau residents have taken to independently logging airplanes’ frequency and decibel levels, following flight patterns, filing complaints with their local government and the Port Authority.

In North Hempstead, municipalities have circulated petitions, and in East Hills, even called for litigation against the FAA to end what village Mayor Michael Koblenz described as “intolerable noise.” Town residents have filed more than 200 plane noise complaints this year.

Martins said he plans to meet soon with Port Authority and FAA officials.

FAA spokesman Jim Peters said that the agency “supports the reduction of aircraft noise where feasible in cooperation with the aviation community” and that noise compatibility research, called Part 150 studies, is underway at Kennedy and LaGuardia airports.

Concerns raised to the FAA seem to have “fallen on deaf ears,” said longtime Malverne resident Elaine Miller, who added that she rises in the morning to jet engines and falls asleep with earplugs in to drown out the noise in the evening. Miller said she and other quiet-skies advocates are hopeful the “highways in the sky” will somehow be hushed.

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