What is Transportation Noise Mitigation?
Noise mitigation is an engineering process designed to reduce the effect that transportation systems have on noise pollution. Noise control strategies can be employed both inside and outside buildings, and they effectively cut down on noise from airplanes, highway traffic, railroads, or construction. Roadway and aircraft noise are some of the biggest culprits in noise pollution in the world, and civil and building engineers have recently begun taking great steps to cut down on the effect they have on our society.
Studies from the EPA have shown that noise pollution has a significantly detrimental effect on people who are exposed to it. Research has drawn links between noise pollution and hearing loss, high blood pressure, sleep disruption, and stress-related illnesses. It is estimated that roughly 19.3 million people are exposed throughout day and night to sound levels greater than 65dB from highway traffic alone. Generally, it is thought that exposure to sound levels around 65dB or higher may cause detrimental health effects, whereas prolonged exposure to levels of 85dB or higher can significantly raise the risk for tinnitus and hearing loss.
In addition to posing potential health threats, noise pollution is just downright unpleasant. Though it cannot be seen, touched, or smelled, unwanted and perpetual noise is a form of pollution like any other. It is such a significant problem that the EPA has initiated many acts on the matter, including the Clean Air Act, the Noise Control Act of 1972, and the Quiet Communities Act of 1978. Since then, the responsibility of mitigating noise in communities has been passed to state and local governments, though the EPA still regulates noise pollution frequently.
Benefits of Transportation Noise Mitigation
Since the implementation of these acts, civil engineers and architects have progressed further into noise-mitigating designs. Civil engineers use urban planning layouts, roadway designs, road barriers, and alternative road surfaces to cut down on the noise generated by highway traffic. Architects have taken to designing buildings with interior noise mitigation strategies, including acoustical site planning, noise shields, and landscape noise buffers.
Typically, when an area is exposed to 65dB or more, it is deemed “naturally unacceptable,” and noise mitigation strategies are necessary. HUD requires that all construction in areas exposed to noise must undergo a noise assessment. If the sound level is found to be above 65dB, retroactive noise attenuation rehab projects will be strongly encouraged.
Any level above 75dB will require approved noise mitigating designs. For residences and businesses that are located near transportation hubs, noise mitigation is an important concept in design. Using a variety of noise buffering structures inside and outside can greatly cut down on noise pollution and the negative, long-term health effects it can have on people.
Community residents and workers have the right to enjoy a conducive living environment that doesn’t pose risks to their health. Noise pollution from construction and work zones can be controlled with the right company and with the right technology. Effective noise mitigation is just another way we can improve our society and the world that surrounds us. As our cities evolve, they will need additional structures, new structures, or the razing of structures. Through all these changes, ensuring noise levels are controlled will allow cities, and people, to keep functioning optimally.