Our rush to get places has an unintended consequence: Noise.
A recent “noise map” of the Bay Area shows loud corridors of transportation-related racket in our region, which is striped by highways and planes departing from the Oakland, San Jose and San Francisco international airports.
The first-ever analysis by the U.S. Department of Transportation shows that 97 percent of Americans are exposed to 50 decibels worth of clamor from our airplanes, cars and trucks, the audible equivalent of a humming refrigerator.
Some Americans — including Bay Area residents living under our airport flight routes or next to Highways 101, 80 and other major corridors — are exposed to the transportation-equivalent sound of a vacuum cleaner, around 70 decibels or more.
The colorful National Transportation Noise Map, based on data collected by the Federal Aviation Administration and the Federal Highway Administration, reveals which U.S. residents suffer the greatest misery. Areas in deep orange, blue or purple are the noisiest. White or light yellow areas are the quietest.
The feds measured only transportation-related noise, not the racket produced by jackhammers, idling engines, street music or your next-door neighbor’s drum solos.
But the Department of Transportation hopes that annual updates will help track trends in noise levels, shaping public policy — and perhaps taming the din.
“The data provides a basis for understanding ‘what-if’ scenarios and helping policy makers to prioritize noise-related transportation investments,” the report said.
The negative effects of constant noise have been well-documented: hearing loss, disrupted sleep and cognitive impairment in children, among other ills. One study linked community noise to a loss of productivity and property values.
Published at Tue, 11 Jul 2017 17:47:22 +0000