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Table 4-53: Number of People Residing in High Noise Areas Around U.S. Airports

Table 4-53: Number of People Residing in High Noise Areas Around U.S. Airports

(Within 65 dB DNL noise-level contours)

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 Year Exposure U.S. resident population (millions)
People (thousands) Percent of U.S. resident population
1975 7,000 3.25 215.5
1980 5,200 2.29 227.2
1985 3,400 1.43 237.9
1990 2,700 1.08 R249.6
1995 1,700 R0.64 R266.3
1996 1,500 R0.56 R269.4
1997 1,300 R0.48 R272.6
1998 1,100 R0.40 R275.9
1999 680 R0.24 R279.0
2000 440 0.16 282.2
2001 R411 R0.14 285.1
2002 294 0.10 288.0

KEY: dB = decibels; DNL = day-night sound level; R = revised.

a Noise-level contours are graphical representations of noise levels on a map, similar to elevation contours on a topographic map. Noise-level contours are lines that join points of equal sound levels. Areas between given noise-level contour lines would have a noise level between the two contour values. The U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has identified DNL 65 dB as the highest threshold of airport noise exposure that is normally compatible with indoor and outdoor activity associated with a variety of land uses, including residential, recreational, schools, and hospitals.

b Estimates are for areas surrounding airport property of 250 of the largest civil airports with jet operations in the United States. They exclude exposure to aircraft noise within an airport boundary.

c 1975 exposure estimates were made by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 1980-2002 estimates were made by FAA. See the source and accuracy statement for more details on how exposure estimates are made.



1975-2002: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration, Office of Environment and Energy (AEE-12), personal communications, Sept. 19, 2002 and Jan. 18, 2004.


1975-1999: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Statistical Abstract of the United States 2002 (Washington, DC: 2002), table 2.

2000-2002: Ibid., Monthly Population Estimates for the United States, available at as of Jan. 21, 2004.

Updated: Sunday, May 21, 2017