If you live in a city in the US, you might be used to constant noise from cars, trucks, trains, planes, and neighbours.
A new interactive map from the US Bureau of Transportation Statistics documents the exact level of noise pollution in every town in the US. It shows that even small towns are not immune to vehicular and aviation sound. Overall, the agency found that transportation-related noise affects 97% of the US population, at approximately 35 to 50 decibels (which is slightly quieter than the sound of a running dishwasher).
Spotted by CityLab, the map reveals that airports and highways contribute the most to ambient noise. Here’s what New York City’s noise pollution looks like:
Regions with splashes of red and pink suffer from higher amounts of noise (at 50 to 80 decibels). As you can see below, the area surrounding the Dallas-Forth Worth International Airport is particularly noisy:
The neighbourhoods covered in purple and blue correspond to noise that’s 80 decibels and up (comparable to a garbage disposal). The Bureau says that one-tenth of a per cent of the population could potentially experience noise at this level.
Besides the annoyance that noise brings, it can also be a public health issue. Research from the World Health Organisation suggests that noise above 30 decibels can impact your sleep cycle. It’s a level that, according to the map, most Americans deal with every night. Exposure to street noise above 50 decibels (about the same as a typical office) is also linked to higher risks of heart attack, while high levels of highway noise may contribute to depression.
If you’re looking for somewhere to live with less ambient noise, you might consider moving to northwestern states like Utah, Idaho, or Nevada:
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