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A New App That Predicts Noise Pollution

Noise pollution doesn't get much attention, but it can be bad for your health—and the health of the ecosystem. Maybe this new app will help.

There are several hazards you want to look out for when buying a house—hidden asbestos, leaky pipes, crumbling foundations, maybe even ancient Indian burial grounds, if you believe in that sort of thing. But one hazard is pretty hard to predict, at least without spending a lot of time in a house: too much noise.

At least until now. Scientists at the University of Granada are developing a new application that combines data including street type, road conditions, and average vehicle speed to predict the noise level on any given street, at any given time (with 95 percent accuracy). In other words, if you’re worried it will be too loud to sleep in your prospective new home, just consult the application, and you’ll have an answer. It’s unclear what sort of units the application will report noise levels in, but no doubt the researchers can come up with a system that laypeople understand.

The effects of noise pollution might not be as damaging as those of air pollution, but they're nothing to sneeze at, either. Noise pollution can contribute to some serious health problems—including stress-related illnesses, high blood pressure, hearing loss, and heart attacks. It’s also lousy for ecosystems, threatening coral reefs and killing whales. If this application helps us study, and mitigate, those effects, it could be useful for much more than just home shopping.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

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