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Though public transportation is thought to be better for the environment in that it reduces greenhouse gas emissions, saves energy, and improves air quality, according to the Federal Transit Administration, there may be a negative effect on your personal health.
According to a recent Canadian study, commuters traveling during peak hours were exposed to maximum noise levels. A summary of the study’s results, published on the Hear-it AISBL—a nonprofit organization that provides information on hearing loss—website, show the results of the study, which was published in the Journal of Otolaryngology—Head & Neck Surgery. In this article, we’ll share the highlights, edited and adapted from the Hear-it website.
Researchers looked at two different commuting situations among Toronto residents: people waiting for a streetcar/bus as compared to people walking/biking to a subway. Bikers were exposed to louder noise than those walking or driving a vehicle. Noise levels were higher for those waiting on a subway platform as compared to those in the subway car. And, finally, research showed that those waiting at bus stops were exposed to the loudest noise of all.
Though commuters often only experienced short and intense bursts of impulse noise exceeding the 114 dBA limit recommended by the EPA, researchers concluded this can be just as harmful as prolonged noise exposure. Up to 20% of the peak mean noise measurementsexceeded 114 dBA, and up to 85% of measurements at bus stops were higher than 120 dBA, according to the study. Researchers were concerned that prolonged exposure could lead to noise-induced hearing loss.