Noise Pollution Is Becoming A Problem For National Parks

A new study from the National Park Service and Colorado State University in Fort Collins has shown that noise pollution is more prevalent in protected areas than previously known.

Noise pollution can affect the ability of wildlife to forage and hunt, can interfere with sleep (which in turn breeds a whole host of other problems), and can even lessen the healthful benefits for humans spending time in nature.

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The results of the study, recently published in Science, paint an increasingly alarming picture. As Ula Chrobak writes:

In 1972, U.S. officials enacted the Noise Control Act, which gave the Environmental Protection Agency the authority to impose limits on noise from motor vehicles and machinery. But regulators have largely ignored noise in parks, wilderness, and other protected areas, which cover 14% of the country. And 80% of the United States—including many parks and protected areas—is now within 1 kilometer of a road, thanks to rapidly growing residential and industrial areas.

[Researchers] found that noise pollution doubled sound levels in 63% of protected areas and caused a 10-fold increase in 21%, the team reports today in Science. Such levels can harm wildlife and annoy visitors in natural areas. Generally, the more remote or restricted an area, the less noise. Parks and open spaces managed by local governments, often adjacent to cities, were the noisiest. State and federal lands allowing logging, mining, and oil and gas extraction were also noisy. National parks and wilderness areas were notably quieter but still not safe. Noise pollution doubled sound levels in 12% of all wilderness areas.

To read the rest of the research, visit Science.

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