Friday, April 28, 2023

The Noisiest Cities in America

Which is the noisiest city in America. According to Esri (using 2018 data from the US Department of Transport) the town of Elizabeth in New Jersey has the highest levels of noise pollution in the United States. However a recent study by Apple and the Univeristity of Michigan disagrees and says that the city of Saginaw, Michigan actually ranks as the noisiest place in the US.

The Apple Hearing Study team, a partnership between the University of Michigan and Apple, has collected noise level data from 130,000 Apple watches across the United States. The study aims to measure people's explosure to noise and its impact on health. The study is looking at exposure to sound over time in order to help uderstand the impact of excessive noise on people's hearing.

During the study environmental sound levels were collected by Apple Watch wearers. This data was then used to "calculate an average daily environmental sound exposure level". The data from the study can be explored in the Interactive US Maps of Noise Exposure. The nationwide map visualizes the percentage of the population exposed in each state to excessive noise, while individual state maps show the percentage exposed to excessive noies in each metropolitan and nonmetropolitan area of each state.

Of the 52 states and territories mapped in the study Puerto Rico has the highest percentage of people exposed to excessive noise levels (44%). Delaware (39%) has the second highest level and Rhode Island (38%) has the third highest percentage of the population exposed to excessive noise. Of the 531 metropolitan areas in the United States Saginaw, Michigan ranks first, as the area with the highest percentage of the population exposed to excessive noise. Jonesboro, Arkansas (52%) has the second highest percentage of the population living with excessive noise. Hinesville, Georgia (52%) ranks third.

According to data from the Department of Transportation the city of Elizabeth in New Jersey is actually the noisiest town in America . On average noise pollution in Elizabeth is higher than any other city in the United States, with the city of Inglewood, California coming in a close second.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) has released a noise model map showing the noise pollution around airports and roads in the United States. Esri has added DOT's data as a layer in its Living Atlas interactive map. The USA Transportation Noise - Road and Aviation 2018 layer allows you to look up any American address to see how much noise pollution is likely to be present from road and airport traffic.

Esri has also used the DOT data to determine which are the noisiest cities in America. Using the DOT noise model data Esri has compared the predicted noise levels in all towns and cities with a population greater than 50,000. Elizabeth, Jersey tops the list of the noisiest cities. This may be partly due to the heavy freight traffic generated by the container port, Port Newark–Elizabeth Marine Terminal. Inglewood, California (America's second noisiest city) is on the flight route into Los Angeles International Airport. Low flying planes coming into land contribute to the high levels of noise pollution experienced by the citizens of Inglewood.

You can view all the results from Esri's analysis on its interactive map Sensory Overload: Lights and Noise for Cities and CDPs greater than 50k. This map not only ranks all cities with a population over 50,000 for their levels of noise pollution but ranks all cities based on their levels of light pollution. The light pollution rankings are based on the mean light pollution from the nighttime lights annual composite map by the Earth Observation Group.

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