This is What Air Pollution Sounds Like

Oil pump near Taft, California (photo by Anna Conti via flickr)

Researchers in California have translated air pollution into futuristic soundscapes.

The website Atlantic Cities reports that scientists at University of California-Berkeley collected air samples from different locations across the state, then assigned tones to the different chemicals they found.

The authors write: "You can actually hear the difference between the toxic air of a truck tunnel (clogged with diesel hydrocarbons and carcinogenic particulate matter) and the fragrant air of the High Sierras."

Give it a listen.


According to the researchers, Bakersfield -- a town situated in California's Central Valley -- sounds a lot like Oakland's Caldecott Tunnel.  This is "the result of fresh hydrocarbons from a main trucking highway and oil and gas fields surrounding the sampling site."

Despite decades of progress, Southern Californians are among those at highest risk of death due to air pollution. The American Lung Association gives failing grades to more than half of California's counties.

Read more over at Atlantic Cities.