Environmental noise dropped almost by 50% during early the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic when the U.S. was on lockdown. The data were analyzed from Apple Watch users who agreed to sharing their data. The findings were published in the journal
Environmental Research Letters by researchers at the University of Michigan.
Apple Watch Data
By analyzing data from Apple Watch users in Florida, New York, California and Texas, the researchers found daily average sound levels dropped approximately 3 decibels. This was during the time period of March and April 2020, when the stay-home-orders were issued, compared to January and February 2020.
CA and NY Go Quiet
The researchers also found that there were drastic reduction in California and New York, compared to Texas and Florida where the reduction were less.
Week Days Became Quieter
They also found that initially the noise reduction was largest during the weekend time when almost 100% of the participants showed noise reduction to below the 75 dBA threshold. However, this weekend distinction of noise reduction disappeared, and there were not much distinction between working days and weekends once the lockdown started. Basically, people stopped going to work, and the distinction between working days and weekend days became less.
“That is a huge reduction in terms of exposure and it could have a great effect on people’s overall health outcomes over time,” said Rick Neitzel, one of the researchers in their press release.
“The analysis demonstrates the utility of everyday use of digital devices in evaluating daily behaviors and exposures,” he said.