White Noise Sound Levels in New York City

In a recent New York magazine article on sound and noise levels, an acoustics expert measured various sound levels throughout the city.

  • Normal conversation is measured to be approximately 65 decibels.
  • The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health says prolonged exposure to levels over 85 decibels can be harmful.
  • Upper West Side traffic was recorded at 79 decibels, while the Astor Place subway came in at an ear-screeching 101 decibels.
  • A car horn in Midtown measures upwards of 90 to 101 decibels.
  • And don't forget about the canine population. A barking dog-one of the most common complaints to the city's 311 hotline-can reach 100 decibels or more.
  • Construction drilling in the street measures 90 decibels (sometimes more) -probably about the same level as the aerobics class in your local gym.

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