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15 CHAPTER SIX EFFECTS OF AVIATION NOISE ON SCHOOLS Some of the most promising research has been in the area of avi- affect recognition or recall. Given that road noise and verbal ation noise effects on school children. Recent studies indicate a noise were relatively constant sources and the aircraft and potential link between increased aviation noise and both reading train noise were event-type sources, these observed differ- comprehension and learning motivation, particularly for those ences were not expected. students already scholastically challenged. In 2000, FICAN published a position paper regarding The effect of aviation noise on children's learning ability effects of aircraft noise on classroom learning. It summa- and retention of information in schools is of critical concern rized research on its effects, and indicated that aircraft noise worldwide, with several new and potentially conclusive can interfere with learning in the areas of reading, moti- studies having been completed in the last few years. Most of vation, language, speech acquisition, and memory. The the new research and related results have taken place either in strongest findings are in the area of reading, where more Munich (using the old and new Munich airports before and than 20 studies have shown that children in noise-impact after the closing of one and opening of the other) or the United zones are negatively affected by aircraft. Research has States through FICAN. Most types of school effect studies confirmed conclusions from studies completed in the 1970s utilize a binary definition; that is, describing two subject that show a decline in reading when outdoor noise levels environments of noise exposure, a high-noise setting and a equal or exceed Leq of 65 dBA. low-noise setting, which make it difficult to define a dose- response curve. However, it is usually clear that noise levels Recently released and not yet fully reviewed is FICAN's above a certain Leq affect a child's learning experiences. initial study involving 35 public schools in Texas and Illinois near three airports ("Findings of the FICAN Pilot Study . . ." In 1995 and again in 1998, Evans et al., studying school 2007). Results of the study indicate that the children living in the vicinity of the Munich airport and a in quiet suburban area, demonstrated that children within Student failure rate may be due to impaired learning in the class- high-noise areas showed evidence of poor persistence on room, perhaps caused in part by noise stress. To the extent that noise stress contributes to student failure, then failing students are challenging tasks, and reported considerable annoyance with the ones most likely to benefit from noise reduction. In contrast, community noise levels, adjusted for individual differences top-score students are less likely to benefit. Such a rationale is in rating criteria for annoyance judgments (Evans et al. 1995, consistent with the results of this study. 1998). Other studies by Hygge et al. (2002) examined aviation noise effects on children in the area around the old This study's analysis is not yet fully reviewed. and new Munich airports. They reported that three data waves were collected, pre- and post-switching of the airports. Long- Regarding indoor classroom acoustical performance term memory and reading were impaired in the noise group at criteria, two main works stand out that additionally comple- the new airport, although there was improvement in the ment each other. The Acoustical Society of America provides formerly noise-exposed group at the old airport. Short-term performance criteria, design requirements, and design guide- memory also improved in the latter group after the airport lines for new school classrooms and other learning spaces was closed. Speech perception was impaired in the newly ("Acoustical Performance Criteria . . ." 2002). These criteria noise-exposed group. are keyed to the acoustical qualities needed to achieve a high degree of speech intelligibility in learning spaces, and the Other interesting and unexpected differences in the effects standard is a very good guideline for best practices in class- of aviation noise on classroom learning experiences come room acoustical design. The second publication is a very from Hygge's study where children aged 12 to 14 years were technical comparison of speech intelligibility metrics in the tested for recall and recognition of a text exactly one week classroom based on various background noise (Bistafa and later (Hygge 2003). Overall, there was a strong noise effect Bradley 2000). The study, consistent with the ANSI standard on recall, and a smaller but significant effect on recognition. recommendation for steady-state noise, recommends ideal Using a sound source located in the classroom, the single- and acceptable background noise levels of classrooms, but source studies--aircraft and road traffic--impaired recall at does not address intermittent noise such as noise from outdoor both noise levels, yet train noise and verbal noise did not transportation.