University of Michigan, together with Apple Inc., highlights human exposure to noise

University of Michigan, together with
Apple Inc., highlights human exposure
to noise

People's exposure to environmental noise halved during the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent restrictions, according to researchers who analysed data from the recently published Apple Hearing Study.

This research comes from the University of Michigan's School of Public Health, working in collaboration with Apple Inc. ScienceDaily.com reported on this and other research findings at https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/10/201009131421.htm.


The study centred around a large group of volunteers from various states around the United States including Florida, New York, California and Texas, who regularly wear Apple Watches. The above listed four states were selected to participate as each had different responses to the stay at home order, as was evident in the data captured. This experiment recorded almost half a million different noise level readings on a daily basis before, but also during, the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown. As a result of decreased movement and activity during the shutdown, daily sound levels recorded dropped approximately three decibels on average after stay-at-home orders were issued by various Governments in March and April.


Associate professor of Environmental Health Sciences at the University of Michigan, Rick Neitzel says:

That is a huge reduction in terms of exposure and it could have a great effect on people's overall health outcomes over time... The analysis demonstrates the utility of everyday use of digital devices in evaluating daily behaviors and exposures.

As for the results of this experiment, researchers noticed a substantial reduction in sound levels from California and New York, particularly on the weekends from Friday through to Sunday, with close to 100 percent of the participants reducing the amount of time they spent in places measuring 75 dBA thresholds and above, which equates to sounds that are (roughly) as loud as an alarm clock. However, in Florida and Texas there was less of a reduction recorded across all participants.


Over the course of the experiment, it became clear to Neitzel that people's daily routines had been completely disrupted and it was getting more difficult to differentiate between the normal five working days and the weekend. Notwithstanding that, these results have made it easier for researchers to be able to demonstrate the regular sound levels that people are exposed to, depending upon the state in which they live, what age they are or whether or not they use some form of hearing aid.


Neitzel has said that,

These are questions we've had for years and now we're starting to have data that will allow us to answer them. We're thankful to the participants who contributed unprecedented amounts of data. This is data that never existed or was even possible before.

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