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Noise Pollution in Densifying Cities

Noise pollution tends to impact low-income communities more than others. For those who can afford the luxury, there are ways to shut out the noise.
April 29, 2019, 12pm PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Thomas McMullan reports on the question of to deal with the increasing noise that comes with urban densification.

As cities swell, writes McMullan, "there are signs we are finding it harder to cope with the noise." Not only are more people dealing with noise pollution in the city, noise pollution tends to affect low-income communities the most.

In the US, research from 2017 suggests poorer urban neighbourhoods are nearly two decibels louder than affluent areas. Noise pollution tracks social segregation. The same study also found that, across US cities such as Detroit and Chicago, communities with larger proportions of black, Hispanic and Asian residents face higher noise levels than other neighbourhoods.

As McMullan documents, recent research show noise pollution to have negative public health effects,l ike high blood pressure, heart attacks, and type 2 diabetes.

So what come be done about all that noise? McMullan provides examples of development projects that have deployed technology and building techniques to combat noise pollution, but usually at a cost premium. McMullan also describes innovative concepts, technologies, and practices of sound design, used to mask noise or add sounds to cover noise in the built environment—it's called pink noise rather than white noise.

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Published on Thursday, April 25, 2019 in The Guardian
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