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

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

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 3.24 216.0
1980 5,200 (R) 2.28 (R) 227.7
1985 3,400 1.43 237.9
1990 2,700 1.08 249.6
1995 1,700 0.64 266.3
1996 1,500 0.56 269.4
1997 1,300 0.48 272.6
1998 1,100 0.40 275.9
1999 680 0.24 279.0
2000 (R) 874 (R) 0.31 282.2
2001 (R) 867 (R) 0.30 285.1
2002 (R) 570 (R) 0.20 287.9
2003 (R) 505 (R) 0.17 (R) 290.4
2004 (R) 491 (R) 0.17 (R) 293.2
2005 (R) 498 (R) 0.17 (R) 295.9
2006 (R) 481 (R) 0.16 (R) 298.8
2007 (R) 468 (R) 0.16 (R) 301.6

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. 1980-2007 estimates were made by FAA.

Noise exposure people data for 2000 and forward was re-estimated using an enhanced version of U.S. MAGENTA (Model for Assessing the Global Exposure of Noise because of Transport Airplanes). The enhanced version of the model uses radar-based traffic data to account for unscheduled U.S. MAGENTA also includes improvements to the acoustical model to account for differences in the sound attenuation characteristics between wing-mounted and tail-mounted aircraft engines. These enhancements result in computed population noise exposure estimates that are more accurate and larger than previous versions of the model. Therefore, it is important to note that the "growth" in the number of people exposed from 1999 to 2000 resulted from improvements in measurement, not deterioration in aviation noise trends.

1975-2007: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration, Office of Environment and Energy, personal communications, June 12, 2009.
1975-80: U.S. Department of Commerce, 2009 Statistical Abstract, National Estimates and Projections; population, available at as of June 12, 2009.
1985-2007: Ibid., Estimates and Projections--States, Metropolitan Areas, Cities; Resident Population, available at as of June 12, 2009.