RIVM logo, National Institute for Public Healthe and the Enviroment. Minsty of Health, Welfare and Sport

Research on Noise and Health NATO Airbase Geilenkirchen

Gezondheidsonderzoek Vliegbasis Geilenkirchen (Desk research) I : Hoofdrapportage: samenvatting, conclusies en aanbevelingen Gezondheidsonderzoek Vliegbasis Geilenkirchen


RIVM has examined the influence of military aircraft sound (AWACS) on the wellbeing and health of residents in the Dutch region round the airbase Geilenkirchen. The results indicate that the magnitude of most of the effects studied has decreased with up to nearly two-thirds between 2002 and 2012. The decrease is in line with the decrease in number of flight movements and therefore most likely with exposure to military aircraft sound. Still a considerable proportion of residents suffer from severe annoyance due to military aircraft noise. In addition, some people suffer from high blood pressure or experiencing cardiovascular events (myocardial infarction, stroke) due to exposure to military aircraft noise. No evidence was found for an increased risk of death from all cardiovascular diseases together. An increased risk for death due to stroke was observed in the area with the highest exposure to military aircraft noise. However, several factors are known to contribute to stroke, such as lifestyle factors. Data on lifestyle factors were not available. Therefore, these results are inconclusive with respect to whether or not the increased risk of death due to stroke is a result of exposure to aircraft noise. In 2012, about 29,000 of the approximately 500,000 adult residents in South Limburg suffer from severe noise annoyance. In the region around the airbase Geilenkirchen about 13,000 of the approximately 220,000 adult residents are severely annoyed. Especially residents of municipalities near the airbase like Onderbanken, Brunssum and Schinnen experience much noise annoyance. Selfreported health shows no relation with military aircraft sound. It is estimated that two children, out of 638 in South Limburg, have reading impairment due to aircraft noise. Around the airbase Geilenkirchen this is one additional child with reading ability retardation, out of 272 children with a reading impairment. Of the approximately 160,000 people who have high blood pressure, an estimated number of 80 people have high blood pressure due to the noise of military aircraft, resulting in additional seven people suffering from cardiovascular disease over the next 20 years. Around the airbase Geilenkirchen, an estimated number of 33 people have high blood pressure, resulting in three additional cases of cardiovascular disease over the next 20 years. RIVM conducted this study between June 2012 and December 2013, in cooperation with the Municipal Health Service (GGD) South Limburg and the National Aerospace Laboratory (NLR). The Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment commissioned the study. National and international experts in the field of aircraft noise and health reviewed design, implementation and initial findings of the study. The design, implementation and findings were in line with their expectations.

Home / Documents and publications / Research on Noise and Health NATO Airbase Geilenkirchen

RIVM Committed to health and sustainability