Menu Close

How to Combat Noise Pollution | Architect Magazine

Blaine Brownell on the new materials and research that could contribute to a quieter future.

Flickr/Creative Commons License/Steven Conry
Flickr/Creative Commons License/Steven Conry


When we talk about pollution we typically are referring to unhealthy substances in the air or water. But an additional, pervasive source of pollution—environmental noise—can also pose significant risks. According to the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, noise pollution results in adverse health effects—from hearing loss to heart disease—in tens of millions of Americans each year.

Those of us working from home during COVID-19 developed a heightened awareness of environmental noise whenever leaf blowers, lawnmowers, garbage trucks, or motorcycles interrupted our Zoom calls. On the whole, however, ambient sound exposure diminished early in the pandemic because of reduced air and road travel. According to Environmental Research Letters, participants in a study in California, Florida, New York, and Texas on average experienced a three dBA decrease in environmental noise during the COVID-19 lockdown, which “likely represents a meaningful reduction in overall risk of sound-related health effects” such as hypertension, ischemic heart disease, and cognitive performance.

The benefits have been short-lived. Now that pandemic restrictions have been scaled back, air and road travel are currently surging, in some cases topping pre-pandemic levels. Environmental noise will likely be worse than ever as we return to normal.

That need not be the case. A series of new material technologies can help reduce mechanical noise at the source of emission—and offer us the promise of a quieter future.

The foam is made from graphene oxide-polyvinyl alcohol. When applied within an airplane engine, the material would diminish sound levels by up to 80%, reducing take-off noise to a level similar to that of a hairdryer.

Read on >>> Source: How to Combat Noise Pollution | Architect Magazine

Related Posts