Letters to the Editor

Noise of fighter jets should be alarming

Those aggravating things that go wrong in the day and those irritating things that go bump in the night -- disrupting routines and interrupting sleep -- all have a cumulative effect on your brain, especially its ability to remember and learn.

As science gains greater insight into the consequences of stress on the brain, the picture that emerges is not pretty. A chronic overreaction to stress overloads the brain with powerful hormones that are intended only for short-term duty in emergency situations. Their cumulative effect damages and kills brain cells.

Sudden sound is an urgent wake-up call that alerts and activates the stress response -- a biological alarm that affects the brain in powerful ways.

Because loud noise often heralds bad news, animals and humans have evolved a rapid response to audio stressors: the roar of a carnivore, the crack of a falling tree, the scream of a child. More recently, the explosion of a weapon, the wail of a siren, the crash of the stock market.

For the Beaufort area, that noise has become jets.

A study of the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, similar to ones proposed for the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, showed them to be twice as loud as the F-15s and F-16s stationed at Eglin Air Force Base, and those put 80-plus decibels of noise inside a home with the doors and windows closed. The picture that emerges is not a pretty one.

Susan MathewsBeaufort