The constant barrage of noise at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport could cause health problems for airport residents, and a new study finds the hidden price to treat those problems could morph into more than $800 million over the next 30 years.
The constant barrage of noise from planes arriving and departing from BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport could cause more cardiovascular disease, anxiety and low birth weight for your neighbors.
A new study published this month by the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy found that the hidden price tag associated with treating these health problems could morph into more than $800 million over the next 30 years.
“If you put it at the population level, for the people affected, it will be a huge health and medical burden,” said Dr. Zafar Zafari, an assistant professor who conducted the study with graduate student Jeong-eun Park. .
Zafari’s team of researchers decided to count the hidden costs of aircraft noise on cardiovascular disease, anxiety and mental illness, and low birth weight in babies.
In 2012, the Federal Aviation Administration adopted an automated flight system at airports across the country. New technology routed planes to curb delays. But the number of complaints from airport residents skyrocketed.
One of the most striking aspects of the study, Zafari said, is the rising costs to treat the youngest residents — babies born with low birth weight.
“If, in fact, a baby has a higher chance of being born with a low birth weight, the family has to incur the medical costs, the costs of delivery, particularly in the first five years,” Zafari said. “But also low birth weight, throughout life, increases mortality. For these babies [the cost] It’s for your whole life.”
The figures are not applicable to all people living near the flight path, Zafari said. Between 60% and 70% of residents will not be affected by the path of the planes, he said, because they are generally in good health.
The best use of the study, he added, is to help guide future health care policy.
“Prevention is the best treatment,” Zafari said. “Air and noise pollution throughout life increases the risks of different diseases. Those illnesses have costs, and most people think of out-of-pocket costs. But, if you think about the social impact, then this becomes quite significant.”
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