We already know that noise pollution can drive people crazy and that combating the problem can lead to a better quality of life. But the real impact of noise pollution is greater than we might think: for instance, according to SFGate.com, not only is noise pollution (especially from vehicular traffic) a problem in San Francisco, it actually is "putting nearly 1 in 6 San Francisco residents at risk for heart disease, high blood pressure and other stress-related illnesses." The city, in collaboration with UC Berkeley, created maps that "pinpoint the noisiest areas of San Francisco, building by building, hour by hour" based on parameters such as noise levels, population density and traffic. The results are striking, in that they show why dependence on vehicles powered by internal combustion engines is not only bad for the usual list of reasons (air quality, climate change, geopolitics) but also because the noise they create leads to serious health problems.Interestingly, while noise from cars and trucks is the main source of the problem, researchers are also concerned about other sources, including trains, sirens and exhaust fans. The ultimate goal is to "expand the department's model to include those noises to further highlight the problem and help shape building codes, land-use regulations and transportation policy."
Another means of reducing noise from vehicular traffic would be through the electrification of our transportation system, since hybrid and pure electric cars, trucks, trains and buses make little or no noise. Sure, there are those who, for safety and other reasons are concerned that electric and hybrid cars are too quiet, but let's be honest here: cities in the U.S. and all over the world are noisy, stressful places, and the health impacts are real. Electric and hybrids, as well as more cyclists, walkers and mass transit users, not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions and make for cleaner cities, they also make for quieter, more relaxing places to live, work and play.
More on Noise Pollution
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