UCL extends ‘noise stress’ study at Heathrow

University College London (UCL) is extending its WideNoise initiative, launched in April to monitor the stress inflicted on the bodies of airport neighbours by aircraft noise.

Those living under the flight path of Heathrow Airport are now invited to wear body sensors to measure and record the stress caused by aircraft noise, according to a BBC report.

Councilor Carwyn Cox, cabinet member for environmental services, said: ‘This [body sensor project] is to follow on from the WideNoise initiative.

‘This idea is to try to take that a little bit further and find out what their body is experiencing with aircraft noise. Hopefully there will be some volunteers who will come forward to take part in, what we think, will be a very useful idea to try and get a bit more information of the impact of aircraft on individuals.’

Mr. Cox urged interested individuals to volunteer, adding that trial could start in the next few weeks. The data collected in the study will be used to produce a map showing the area where residents are most affected.

Nearly 140 residents have taken part in the WideNoise project, using a mobile phone application to register plane noise. The application enables users to record the sounds of aircraft noise and register how it makes them feel. So far the project has recorded and mapped around 4,500 occurrences of aircraft noise, said a spokesman for Windsor and Maidenhead council, an area reportedly affected by plane-take off noise.

According to Mr. Cox, one third of the recordings so far have been above 80 decibels, and residents have generally complained that the aircraft noise ‘spoilt conversations, use of their gardens, picnics and, generally, their evenings.’

Heathrow Airport has also recently concluded a five-month trial involving early morning flights, which found about 100,000 people living under the flight path experienced less noise. During the trial, which began in December, planes were directed to more defined flight paths between 04:30 and 06:00 to protect people in dedicated areas.

The areas covered in the trial included Vauxhall, Wandsworth, Battersea, Clapham Common, Westminster, Bermondsey and Streatham to the east of the airport, and Binfield, Reading, Purley-on-Thames and Winnersh to the west of the airport.