Without commuter traffic, pandemic-era drivers are speeding up, increasing noise pollution

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Sumary of Without commuter traffic, pandemic-era drivers are speeding up, increasing noise pollution:

  • A team of Boston University biologists who study how human-related sounds impact natural environments seized the opportunity to learn how the reduced movement of people would impact local ecosystems..
  • They found — surprisingly — that sound levels increased in some nature conservation areas, a result of cars driving faster on roads no longer choked by traffic..
  • BU ecologist Richard Primack and Carina Terry, an undergraduate student working in Primack’s research lab, ventured into Boston-area parks, iPhones in hand, to take environmental sound recordings to see how sound levels had changed in comparison to pre-pandemic times, when there were more people out and about, construction underway, and cars on the road..
  • They collected noise samples from all three parks using a specialized sound-sensing app on iPhones, called SPLnFFT..
  • Then, by referencing the Primack lab’s huge library of previously collected sound data, the study authors compared sound levels collected in the months during the pandemic to measurements collected before the pandemic began..
  • They found that Hammond Pond Reservation and Hall’s Pond Sanctuary, both located in suburban residential areas, had lower levels of noise..
  • But at Blue Hills Reservation, they found the opposite — sound levels increased substantially in all areas of the park, “which was very surprising,”.
  • While there are less cars on the roads these days, the researchers say their sound recordings indicate cars are moving much faster, generating more noise..
  • This finding aligns with a trend that has been observed nationwide — the pandemic has seen traffic jams replaced with increased reports of recklessly fast drivers speeding on open roadways..
  • he says, measuring about five decibels noisier, even in the interior of the park, compared to pre-pandemic times..
  • This study was part of her undergraduate honors thesis from the department of earth and environment and the Kilachand Honors College which she graduated from in 2020, and won her the Francis Bacon Award for Writing Excellence in the Natural Sciences….

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