A Noise Mapping Pilot Program for US Cities

Focus Area



Community & Cultural Concerns, Environmental Process






1-2 years

Research Idea Scope

Environmental noise
pollution relates to ambient sound levels beyond comfort levels; as caused by
traffic, construction, industrial, as well as some recreational activities. It
could aggravate serious direct as well as indirect health effects, for example
damage to hearing or sleep and later mental disorder, as well as increasing
blood pressure.


Noise effects could
trigger premature illness and, in extreme cases, cause death.  Night-time effects can differ significantly
from day time impacts.  The largest
impact of environmental noise is annoyance and sleep disturbance, health
effects of noise to which a high percentage of the US population is exposed.


The external costs of
noise in the US amounts to at least 0.35% of GDP.  In general it is considered amongst the most
relevant environment & health problems, just behind the impact of air
quality, but potentially becoming more relevant, if no action is taken. Conservative
and partial estimates show that at least 1,600,000 Disability Adjusted Life
Years are lost every year in the US, mostly due to road traffic.


A Noise Mapping Pilot
Program would be one of the main instruments to identify noise pollution levels
and to trigger the necessary action at a national level.


As more information about
the health impacts of noise become available, the need for a higher level of
protection of US citizens through nation-wide measures is more urgent.

Urgency and Payoff

The Pilot Program would
provide Noise Maps for two major US cities – San Francisco, and New York.


Mapping environmental
noise in large areas would provide a fine tool that would enable assessment of
the consequences of future changes in a municipality early in the planning


The following fields of
application for noise mapping would be possible:

· Following-up of
environmental cases

· Supervision of noisy

· Forming a basis for
research where the relations between noise disturbances and the response of the
disturbed could be evaluated · Comparisons between various regions and areas ·
Advanced health-consequence assessment of noise for regional planning ·
Provision of pedagogical information to the public · Noise control


The methodology could avail
itself of current standards concerning data input, methods for noise
calculations and data output.

Calculations could be
handled with commercial programs.

· Input- and basic data
could be derived from CAD applications and geographical information systems

· Output data would be
delivered as GIS-data for further processing.


The coupling of parameters
like population density and noise levels can be invaluable when planning for
new housing or infrastructure. The material would be easy to publish on the
Internet, which would make public access possible.

Suggested By

Dots Oyenuga, Ph.D., P.E. Analysis & Solutions Consultants, 150 Executive Park Blvd., Ste. 3600, San Francisco, CA 94134 (510) 207-1387

[email protected]