2020 journal article

How can citizen science advance environmental justice? Exploring the noise paradox through sense of place

Cities & Health, 5(1-2), 33–45.

Source: Crossref
Added: June 12, 2021

ABSTRACT Noise, whether measured by decibel-based metrics (loudness or sound levels) or perception-based approaches (through perceived annoyance), can negatively impact human health. Low-frequency noise (LFN), which is poorly assessed by A-weighted decibel metrics, can have particularly negative health effects. Yet, due to varying human perceptions of soundscapes, sometimes sound levels and frequencies that are known to be unhealthy (often originating from mechanical, anthropogenic sources) are not be perceived as annoying noise, and vice versa. We propose a conceptual model based on sense of place theory to explain how this noise paradox arises and why it raises concerns about equitable access to healthy urban soundscapes. We hypothesize that people who hold strong environmental place meanings and attachments are more likely to value natural sounds and more likely to view mechanical anthropogenic sounds as noise; people who display strong attachment to neighborhoods primarily based on socio-cultural place meanings are less likely to perceive unhealthy anthropogenic sounds as noise pollution. Using this sense of place-based model, we highlight a citizen science-based research strategy that could be employed to discern differences in decibel-based and perception-based assessment of noise, addressing the noise paradox and evaluating implications for individuals living in diverse types of urban and suburban environments.