By Seth Daniel
An airplane noise study conducted by the City of Chelsea this month showed that Everett and Chelsea are two of the most impacted communities from the growing numbers of flights coming out of Logan Airport.
A Boston University School of Public Health commissioned noise study has revealed in writing what everyone in Everett and Chelsea already knew anecdotally – that the airport is driving everyone crazy.
“The sharpest increase in annual average estimated airport-related noise levels occurred between 2013 and 2014, with Chelsea, East Boston, and Everett showing the most significant increases among communities investigated,” read the report. “Flight activity on 33L almost doubled between 2012 and 2014, and this timing also aligned with the implementation of the NextGen satellite-based navigation program that concentrated flight paths into and out of Logan Airport.”
NextGen is a frequently reviled innovation in airplane navigation technology in communities where flight paths are concentrated. The technology came on in recent years and it uses GPS technology to pinpoint flight paths and eliminate deviation. That serves to concentrate jet noise to one corridor over and over, rather than spreading it out over a wider area.
Most flights travelling over Everett come off of Runway 33L.
Mayor Carlo DeMaria took note of the study coming out of Chelsea, especially since it also gives detailed information about Everett and the increases residents have endured over the last few years.
“This study shows that with NextGen, a new GPS-based navigation system recently installed at Logan Airport, arrivals and departures at runway 33L have nearly doubled since 2012,” he said. “These new concentrated fight paths have led to dramatic increases airport-related noise in our community. This impacts not only our quality of life here in Everett, but also the health of our residents. This is unacceptable and I will fight hard for new mitigation measures and other ways to reduce aviation-related noise.”
The report was called for earlier this year by Chelsea City Councillors, and it was undertaken on behalf of the City by the Center for Research on Environmental and Social Stressors in Housing Across the Life Course (CRESSH), which is a division of the BU School of Public Health. Those involved in the study included Jonathan Levy, Claire Schollaert and Madeleine Scammell (a Chelsea resident).
The two chief questions being asked where airport noise ranked in Chelsea compared to other nearby communities, and also how high were airport-related noise exposures compared to other nearby communities.
The study looked at noise levels by Census block for the years 2007 to 2015. The finding showed Chelsea had an average decibel level in 2015 that was one of the highest among comparison communities, and Everett was just below Chelsea.
“Taken as a simple average, only Winthrop and East Boston had higher average noise levels,” read the report. “…Looking at noise levels between 2011 and 2015, there has been a general increase in all communities investigated, with Chelsea, East Boston, and Everett having the largest increases in average airport- related noise as measured in DNL. These communities are located directly beneath the 33L departure flight path.”
One of the chief reasons for that are researchers found that flights have nearly doubled between 2012 and 2014 under the Runway 33L flight path, which is Everett’s main source of airplane traffic.
The study also sought to look at some health indicators.
There were 36 hospitalizations per 10,000 people age 35 and over in Everett, with Chelsea leading the way at 44 and the other nearest community being Hull with 37.
“To be clear, this does not imply that the noise or air pollution from Logan Airport is the cause of these disease patterns,” read the report. “Rather, this increased cardiovascular health burden among Chelsea residents, related to a number of different factors, indicates that Chelsea may be particularly vulnerable to increased noise exposures as a result of aviation activity.”