Streams

This is What Air Pollution Sounds Like

Tuesday, September 11, 2012 - 02:57 PM

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.

Tags:

News, weather, Radiolab, Brian Lehrer and more.
Get the best of WNYC in your inbox, every morning.

Comments [1]

Zerkalo

It is amazing you can actually hear the difference between toxic air and clean air. Air pollution is called the silent pandemic for good reason. Air pollution has a very negative impact on neurodevelopment of children. Air purifiers can help get rid of indoor air pollutants.

Dec. 09 2012 06:54 AM

Leave a Comment

Register for your own account so you can vote on comments, save your favorites, and more. Learn more.
Please stay on topic, be civil, and be brief.
Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments. Names are displayed with all comments. We reserve the right to edit any comments posted on this site. Please read the Comment Guidelines before posting. By leaving a comment, you agree to New York Public Radio's Privacy Policy and Terms Of Use.

Sponsored