Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Noise Impairs Learning

From The Guardian this week (June 3): ‘Children in schools under airport flight paths have more difficulty learning to read and score less well in memory tests, researchers reported today in the Lancet medical journal.’

It seems that (and stop me if I’m going too quickly here) the effect of loud aircraft noise impairs reading comprehension. Children at primary schools near Heathrow lost two months in reading age for every extra five decibels in the noise level. (On an interesting note, children near Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam lost only one month in reading age.) Aircraft noise also seems to affect ability to identify previously learned material. Heavy road noise, however, did not have an effect on reading although the children in schools near noisy roads did better in memory tests. (This seems to be related to the fact that road noise is more constant than aircraft noise.)

The report concluded with this finding: ‘Schools exposed to high levels of aircraft noise are not healthy educational environments.’

Huh…imagine that.


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