Brussels Airport troubles locals with noise pollution

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A new study shows that the four Brussels municipalities located near the airport – Machelen, Zaventem, Steenokkerzeel and Brussels Centre – are subjected to more and more noise.

80% of residents in the areas face “greatly inconvenience” from the take-off and landing of aircraft, according to the annual study into the airport’s noise impact.

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By mapping noise pollution around Brussels Airport, the study shows that last year over 50,000 people lived in a zone with a noise level of 55 decibels or more – as loud as a percolating coffee maker. That is a 12% increase compared to 2020.

An estimated 7,715 people were affected by noise nuisance last year – up 14% in 2020. This was greatest in Machelen, where 2,242 inhabitants are “potentially severely inconvenienced”, followed by Zaventem (1,485), Steenokkerzeel (1,298) and Brussels-City (1,151).

Earlier this year, it was calculated that excess noise knocks an average of eight months off the life of Brussels residents – notably by raising stress, blood pressure, and disturbing sleep.

With the aviation sector getting back to full swing after the pandemic, noise pollution rises steeply. In 2021, 119,000 flights left Brussels Airport – almost a 25% increase in 2020.

However, the number of flights has not yet reached pre-Covid levels – in 2019, and there were over 234,000 flights from Brussels Airport. This is reflected in the far higher number of people who were subjected to noise above 55 decibels: 97,624 before the pandemic.

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