Background: This study examines the impact of environmental noise policy on depressive symptoms by exploiting the national experiment afforded by the New Deal aircraft noise control policy introduced in Schiphol (Amsterdam) in 2008. Methods: Data came from older adults (ages 57-102) participating in three waves (2005/2006, 2008/2009 and 2011/2012) of the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam (LASA) (N=1746). Aircraft noise data from the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency were linked to LASA cohort addresses using the GeoDMS software. The Centre for Epidemiologic Studies - Depression (CES-D) scale was used to measure depressive symptoms. Using a difference-in-dfferences (DiD) approach, we compared changes in CES-D levels of depressive symptoms before and after the policy between people living close (≤15 km) and those living far away (>15 km) from Schiphol airport. Results: There were few changes in noise levels after the introduction of the policy. Estimates suggested that the policy did not lead to a reduction in noise levels in the treatment areas relative to the control areas (DiD estimate=0.916 dB(A), SE=0.345), and it had no significant impact on levels of depressive symptoms (DiD estimate=0.044, SE=0.704). Results were robust to applying different distance thresholds. Conclusion: The New Deal aircraft noise control policy introduced in Amsterdam was not effective in reducing aircraft noise levels and had no impact on depressive symptoms in older people. Our results raise questions about the effectiveness of the current noise control policy to improve the well-being of residents living near the airport.

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Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health
Department of Public Health

Li, L., Carrino, L., Reinhard, E., Timmermans, E., Huisman, M., Claassens, J., … Avendano, M. (2020). Aircraft noise control policy and mental health: A natural experiment based on the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam (LASA). Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. doi:10.1136/jech-2020-214264