Take impact of aviation noise on health seriously

I am afraid there is a lack of understanding on the impact of aviation noise on health (Measures needed to reduce noise from planes in north-east, by Mrs Theresa Wee, April 14; and The challenge of aviation noise in Singapore, by Mr Chen Chuanren, April 18).

We need to ask ourselves whether we are willing to to trade our health for economic growth and security, if we ignore the potential damage that aviation noise can cause.

In 2007, The Telegraph reported on a World Health Organisation study which showed that long-term exposure to traffic noise could account for 3 per cent of deaths related to heart disease.

Recently, I moved from the East Coast area to Kampung Admiralty. Despite being used to the civil aviation noise near Changi Airport previously, I was shocked by the much louder noises from Sembawang Air Base.

Given that Kampung Admiralty is Singapore's first "retirement kampung", I suggest that the relevant authorities study the noise impact on retirees (Kampung Admiralty stirs to life as residents move in; Oct 16, 2017).

While I understand the need for the Republic of Singapore Air Force's training sessions, it should also aim to be good neighbours to nearby residents.

A simple way to begin could be by changing the altitude at which planes fly, as well as their route and loitering duration.

Training bases could also be moved further away from the heartland.

I appreciate that the Ministry of Defence needs to maintain many bases for strategic and tactical dispersion of assets, but warfare simulations and search and rescue practice operations can be done in remote areas like Tekong Island.

Perhaps, one day, the colonial-era Sembawang Air Base could become dedicated to the development of drones, battery or solar-powered aircraft and other eco-friendly, noiseless options.

Oskar Lee Kwok Lum (Dr)

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 23, 2018, with the headline Take impact of aviation noise on health seriously. Subscribe