Radiation Protection Dosimetry Advance Access published October 14, 2009

Radiation Protection Dosimetry (2009), pp. 1–5 doi:10.1093/rpd/ncp210

ACOUSTIC SURVEY OF QUIET AREAS AND LONG-RANGE ANTHROPOGENIC NOISE
A. Conte* and M. Balzano Province of Genoa, L.go F. Cattanei, 3, 16147 Genoa, Italy

The enforcement of legislative decree 194/2005 presupposes the acoustic characterisation of ‘quiet areas’ both inside and outside urban centres, which are consistent with preservation and reclamation. This topic is currently studied, focusing on monitoring techniques, on the impact on fauna and on human use of such areas. The Province of Genoa, Italy, is implementing a project on the acoustic characterisation of ‘sample’ quiet areas, with the objective of developing evaluation methods of the acoustic quality and, from a more general viewpoint, of anthropogenic noise impact.

Downloaded from http://rpd.oxfordjournals.org/ at Universidade do Porto on October 27, 2011

THE PROJECT The present study, started in 2004, has examined the following thus far: (a) (b) three city parks within the city of Genoa; two natural areas, partially belonging to Beigua Park (Beigua Park is included in the global network of UNESCO’s Geoparks).

Several acoustic measurements and some numerical evaluations were carried out. A synthesis of the first phase study (2004 and 2005) was reported in a former paper(1). The present report is an update of the previous one and focuses on two areas of particular interest as follows: (1) the city park of Rio S. Pietro (Genoa). This park is constituted by a narrow valley developed perpendicularly to the coastal highway, the Aurelia, and placed into Cornigliano, a highly populated area with factories and important transport infrastructures; (2) the Gargassa valley (Campo Ligure and Rossiglione). This valley is located in an Apennine mountain landscape, characterised by intact natural environment, and developed mainly parallel to the Stura valley, a populated area crossed over by the motorway. METHODOLOGY OF THE ACOUSTIC MEASUREMENTS The following instruments were used: Bruel and Kjaer mod. 2238, Larson Davis mod. 2900 and Larson Davis mod. 824. Acoustic measurements were carried out in different locations and using different typologies. The energy equivalent sound level Leq, maximum and minimum levels and some percentile levels Ln were measured. Some spectrum
*Corresponding author: ufficio.rumore@provincia. genova.it

sequences were measured using the ‘4-DENA’ technique (4 Dimensions Environmental Noise Analysis), which enables testing of Leq and Ln time evolution in band frequency(2), because such a technique consists of automatic consecutive acquisitions of Leq and Ln surveys in band frequencies. All the measurements considered have been gauged on different days, during the morning and afternoon hours and, sometimes, over 24 h, in the period from May to October in 2005–07. The

Figure 1. City Park Rio S. Pietro and Cornigliano Street: mean, maximum and minimum 4-DENA Leq spectra. Position: ‘Mid Valley’ (top) and ‘Cornigliano street’ (bottom).

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org/ at Universidade do Porto on October 27. Aurelia): in this case the sound quality is dominated by street noise. displaying maximum. minimum and mean Leq spectra (flat weighting. the hourly measurements provided values ranging from 74 to 46 dBA: 74 dBA were measured along Cornigliano Street (the coastal highway. GARGASSAV ALLEY Monitoring areas were selected for acoustic measurements along the valley. in proximity of the crest that separates it from the Stura valley. traffic and production activities. at intermediate positions in a sort of canyon and then in wooded stretches in proximity to farmhouses. In other words. Gargassa valley: ‘Valletta Pavaglione’ (top) and ‘Canyon’ (bottom) L99 sonograms (flat weighting. The graphics analysis highlights two ranges of main frequencies: one range with high values (sound phenomenon connected to birds and insects) and another range with low values (area and long-range noises). dB). while a significant decrease was observed inside the park: from about 51 dBA in the lower wooded area (where the sounds of birds also contribute). to 48 dBA in the intermediate position (mid valley) and about 46 dBA on the top of the valley.oxfordjournals. 2011 Figure 2. Aurelia). or a hiding effect of other phenomena (soundscape ‘homogenisation’). Tm ¼ 1 min). Inside each monitoring area several Page 2 of 5 .A. In terms of Leq values (dBA). Figure 1 (bottom) shows the same synthetic view of 4-DENA Leq spectra related to Via Cornigliano (the coastal highway. Tm ¼ 1 min) is represented in a synthetic view. BALZANO Downloaded from http://rpd. from the hollow of the Gargassa river source (Valletta Pavaglione). with a narrow variability (also in terms of time persistence). In Figure 1 (top) the Leq spectrum surveys sequence (1/3 octave. CONTE AND M. there is a loss of acoustic diversity. RIO SAN PIETRO CITY PARK The main anthropogenic sound sources consist of airplanes flying overhead. 4-DENA measurements were mostly on an hourly basis (base time of each single acquisition. Traffic and production activities can be regarded as ‘medium-long range’ propagation sources. dB) for one position inside the park.

The authors’ previous study(1) based on numerical evaluations of motorway noise propagation (performed in accordance with ISO 9613/2 ‘Acoustics— Attenuation of sound propagation outdoors.9 Table 2. the levels rise. and then goes down beyond the crest towards the source of the Gargassa. and quite lower inside the woods (37 –38 dBA). Comparisons of acoustic spectra (flat weighting. Along the Gargassa. The lowfrequency components could. In Figure 3.5 IMPACT OF LONG-RANGE MOTORW AY NOISE With regard to the atmospheric absorption and the ground effect. Very low 22. Going up the ridge.3 38. which confirms the base hypothesis (see Figure 3 (top). In Figure 2 the sonograms show the sequence surveys of L99 (1/3 octave.7 Low Medium High Very high 27. Values of the overall indexes in the case of ‘Valletta Pavaglione’. Tm ¼ 1 min) for two positions inside the Gargassa valley (flat weighting. which in fact are totally shielded compared to the anthropogenic sound intake (however residual and prevalently due to the motorway noises) from the Stura valley. proximity to motorways and far away and animal sounds (bottom).ACOUSTIC SURVEY OF QUIET AREAS AND LONG-RANGE ANTHROPOGENIC NOISE Table 1. Part 2. DLAeq 20.oxfordjournals. both overall and in band. in some cases these measurements were repeated in 2005 and in 2006. it is interesting to observe the difference in ‘shape’ between the ‘motorway’ spectrum and the others. at least in part. in their opinion. partially due to nearby farmhouses (38 –57 dBA). at this point unrecognisable in its motorway origin. the bottom graphic shows a comparison between a typical motorway spectrum (surveyed) and the same spectrum at different distances from Figure 3. General method of calculation’). Values of the indexes for ranges of frequency in the case of ‘Valletta Pavaglione’. In the presence of significant fauna activity (birds and insects) the levels increase up to about 51 dBA.2 0. for example. In comparison with data surveyed along the slope that goes from the motorway (Stura valley) up to Monte Pavaglione (at Greppie). measurements in different positions were carried out. the Leq dBA level is on an average higher (44 –50 dBA).7 DL(lin)eq 9. those components are mostly missing in other positions (in the canyon. The sonogram related to Valletta Pavaglione (top) highlights the time persistency of the low-frequency components during the measuring time. lead back to motorway emissions. contributes to the generic noise of the area. Page 3 of 5 . a Leq profile can be acquired.1 Downloaded from http://rpd. between the Stura and Gargassa valleys. the high-frequency components present in some spectra are due to animal emissions). Greppie and along motorway (top). with some values even higher (reaching 62 dBA) where there are small waterfalls. 2011 5. dB). from a theoretical point of view it would be expected that the components of mid-low frequencies would mostly ‘survive’ at long range.org/ at Universidade do Porto on October 27. In terms of Leq overall A weighted. in proximity to infrastructure about 73 dBA were measured. Nearing the final stretch of the stream. dB): Valletta Pavaglione (valley). the level goes down to 35 dBA and to 33 dBA at the bottom of Valletta Pavaglione (levels related to fauna not considered). confirms the possibility that noise at low frequency measured in Valletta Pavaglione is strongly influenced by long-range motorway sound radiation which. due to the stronger water flow. The acoustic data highlight the lower levels near the Gargassa source (Valletta Pavaglione) with Leq mostly ranging from 33 to 42 dBA. where the range frequency components due to the water flow are persistent). In addition.

A. Graphics created with Surfer 6. analogous Page 4 of 5 . the motorway. Numerical evaluation of DL(lin)eq for Valletta Pavaglione (top) and an example of general representation of all indexes (bottom). two others were introduced in this study: DL(lin)eq (i. Besides applying the specific index (1). with acoustic levels (mean and standard deviation) associated with a roe deer and birds(1). for an acoustic signal to be recognisable. calculated in the hypothesis of flat land. BALZANO Downloaded from http://rpd. important for the actual use of the environment by the species(3). it should be observed that. The graphics directly illustrate the relative prevalence between motorway and ‘animal’ levels in simulated situations. In order to be able to correctly evaluate the acoustic impact on fauna. 2011 Figure 4. it is not enough for such a signal to be above the disrupting noise. that uses a specific index (A weighted.e. CONTE AND M.org/ at Universidade do Porto on October 27. dBA) defined as follows: DLAeq ¼ LAeqN À LAeqA ð1Þ where the first term is the average of exclusively natural levels and the second one is the average for levels of anthropogenic origins. it is necessary to evaluate the signal-to-noise relationship in the function of the animal species. APPLICATIONS OF SPECIAL INDEXES AND ACOUSTIC IMPACT ARPA (Regional Environmental Protection Agency) Piedmont (4) has set up an interesting method for the acoustic characterisation of biotopes. studying such an index useful to outline the impact on the ‘active’ space of the signal.0 #Golden Software. In any case. Spatial variation of differential indexes: possible representations. the flat weighted index) and DL(lin)eqn.oxfordjournals.

thought to be too inconclusive). high frequencies: 2–4 kHz. 4. Duretto.. Brambilla. F. A. an influence on the medium frequencies and an unperturbed situation on the high and very high frequencies. 101–106. In Tables 1 and 2 the values of the indexes for one of the studied cases are reported. June 2007.oxfordjournals. 3. In Figure 4 there are two examples of representation that illustrate the potential applicative advantages. Based on what has been observed in the field thus far. L’Ambiente 4(3). The assessment of the ranges took into account the spectrum characteristics of the disrupting emissions. and Stragapede. the analysis in ranges of frequency quantifies the acoustic quality in spectrum terms and can be correlated to the evaluation of the critical signal-to-noise relation(3) for animal species. P. 6. M. As a whole. the spatial variation of the differential indexes. L’ambiente sonoro nei parchi urbani e la reazioni dei fruitori. 28–29 (1997). It can be helpful to calculate. J. and Bertetti. The tables show the potentiality of analysis in terms of ranges of frequency. and Gaston. L. March 2007. ordinate) are represented in greyscale. an evaluation of the spatial extension of the impact and the location of the area for better or worse acoustic quality. 169– 172. so as to verify at a preliminary level the presence of possible criticality(6). H. Ipotesi di caratterizzazione acustica di un biotopo. medium frequencies: 250 – 1600 Hz. In: Proceedings of National Symposium CIRIAF. Maffei. K. A. In: Proceedings of National Symposium AIA. low frequencies: 80–200 Hz. C. and Giordanengo. 165– 168. Florence. pp.ACOUSTIC SURVEY OF QUIET AREAS AND LONG-RANGE ANTHROPOGENIC NOISE quantities calculated for specific ranges of frequency n (wider than the 1/3 octave band. Warren. very high frequencies 5 –20 kHz. m) from an anthropogenic noise source. 2011 Page 5 of 5 . Perugia. and Zambon. un nuovo potente mezzo di indagine acustica. The top figure represents the spatial variation of an index for the case of Valletta Pavaglione. See previous studies(1) for details and for the analysis of criticality connected with the calculation methods of the indexes. R. Downloaded from http://rpd. In: Proceedings of National Symposium CIRIAF. 3. G. Daytime noise predicts nocturnal singing in urban robins. Masoero. 4-DENA. Il rumore nelle aree silenziose: un’indagine sperimentale in Provincia di Genova. which in this case emphasise a possible impact on the very low frequencies. 5. October 2003. 2. B. pp.org/ at Universidade do Porto on October 27. Biol. C. the natural background and animal emissions. the spectrum was divided into five ranges as follows: very low frequencies: 20– 63 Hz. REFERENCES 1. A. The bottom figure shows a diagram where. In: Proceedings of National Symposium ISE. Clima acustico delle ` aree naturali: accettabilita dei limiti di legge ai fini della tutela dell’avifauna presente nel Parco del Ticino. Turin. 368–370 (2007). April 2006. Varaldi.. in function of the distance (abscissa. F. A. the indexes allow a general analysis: the DLAeq index is useful for analysing the induced disruption to humans(5). Fuller.. G. Conte. depending on opportune reference values. and represent. pp. Perugia. all the values of all the indexes (both overall and range frequency. Cerniglia. Lett. in relation to use both by humans and wildlife. Both the representations allow.

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