The harms to health caused by aviation noise require urgent action [The BMJ, 18/06/19]
In 1905, the Nobel Prize-winning bacteriologist Robert Koch wrote “The day will come when man will have to fight noise as inexorably as cholera and the plague.”
Koch was before his time and could not have anticipated the rapid growth of aviation worldwide and the impact that aviation noise would have on health.
In October 2018, the World Health Organisation (WHO) published its long awaited new guidelines for environmental noise. 
The guidelines make source-specific recommendations for noise from aviation, as well as road, rail, wind turbines, and leisure. They include tough new lower thresholds set for aviation noise, reflecting the growing body of evidence about the harmful effects of noise on health.
This issue is not new. In 1999, in an attempt to achieve a balance between health hazards for communities near airports with current and proposed developments, the WHO Charter on Transport and Environmental Health recommended that the health of the community should be put first when considering transport since adverse environmental effects fall disproportionately on the vulnerable, particularly children, and the infirm and older people .
It also recommended the “polluter pays” principle; the commonly accepted practice whereby those who produce pollution should bear the costs of managing it to prevent damage to human health or the environment….