The noise from nearby airports impairs children’s reading ability and long-term memory, a new study has revealed. But the effects are reversible



Gary Evans at Cornell University, New York, and colleagues monitored reading, memory, attention and speech perception in schoolchildren before and after the opening of the new international airport in the city and the simultaneous closure of the old airport.



Children aged between 8 and 12 and living near the airport sites were monitored six months before the airport switch, and six months and eighteen months afterwards. Two control groups were also assessed, making a total of 326 children.



At the end of the 24-month period, long-term memory, reading and speech perception had been impaired in the children newly-exposed to noise near the new airport. Furthermore, the reading and memory deficits in this group were more pronounced eighteen months after the opening of the new airport than after six months, suggesting a cumulative effect.