The Hanyroreh reported Thursday that residents living around the USAF base in Pyeongtaek suffer from much higher rates of heart disease, nervous disorders and hearing loss due to noise from U.S. helicopters and combat aircraft. Moreover, it reported that children near the base suffer from depression, behavior disorders and autism at rates 1.5-2 times higher than the children of surrounding areas.
Pyeongtaek City said these were the results appeared in a report the city received from Danguk University medical school professor Gwon Ho-jang, to whom the city entrusted with a health study of residents living near U.S. military facilities in Pyeongtaek. The survey, taken at the request of residents who wanted a study done on sound pollution damage ahead of the relocation of additional U.S. bases to Pyeongtaek, cost Pyeongtaek City some 230 million won. The survey was conducted from July to January on 658 people who lived in eight districts immediately adjacent the USAF base, including Hwanggujiri, Seotan-myeon, 259 residents of three districts like Wolgok-dong which are located more than 5km away from the base, and 679 elementary school children attending seven schools, including Seotan Elementary School. This was the first survey on U.S. base noise pollution conducted by a local government.
The survey revealed that 47.3-52.1 percent of the residents of communities immediately adjacent the base showed signs of high blood pressure, some 6-10 points higher than residents of neighboring villages. People living next to the base who were exposed to much jet fighter noise suffered from hearing loss of some six decibels compared to neighboring areas. In the case of the U.S. bombing range in Maehyang-ni, Hwaseong-si, Gyeonggi-do, a survey by the Association of Physicians for Humanism in June 2000 revealed that those residing close to the range had hearing power some 20 decibels lower than average.
20.9 percent of residents exposed to helicopter noise suffered nervous disorders like depression, anxiety and insomnia, while 10.3-22.5 percent of residents exposed to jet noise suffered from nervous disorders. This was quite high compared to residents of neighboring districts, only 7.1 percent of whom suffered from nervous disorders. In the case of women, 57 percent of women exposed to base noise suffered from menstrual cramps, while only 45.5 percent of women in surrounding districts suffered from such cramps.
In the case of children, 15.2 percent of those exposed to helicopter noise and 7.3 percent of those exposed to jet noise suffered from signs of autism, rates some 4-8 times greater than those of surrounding districts (1.9 percent). Rates of nervous disorders like depression and insomnia where higher for children in areas adjacent to the base who were exposed to helicopter noise (23.2 percent) and jet noise (10.9 percent) than for children in neighboring districts (3.8 percent). Children living with noise pollution from the base also scored lower in mental skills like writing and arithmetic.
Prof. Gwon said, “There are almost no other examples in Korea of comprehensive research like this one on the health effects of aircraft noise polution… The survey revealed that residents living next to the USAF base are suffering from serious damage in their health, including hearing and their pulmonary and nervous systems.”
A Pyeongtaek City official said, “Because aeronautics laws have not been applied to U.S. military installations, we could not conduct projects to deal with sound polution… As the Special Law on U.S. Bases has been crafted and sound damages confirmed, we plan to demand of the Defense Ministry basic countermeasures to deal with sound pollution, including funds to pay for measures to prevent sound pollution damage.”
– See more at: http://www.rjkoehler.com/2006/03/10/noise-from-osan-ab-harming-health-of-nearby-residents-report/#sthash.j2WSwMHY.dpuf