WITH TRAFFIC noise now ranking second among the most impactful environmental threats to public health, Nissan Asia & Oceania has undertaken a sound measurement experiment to raise awareness about how electric vehicles (EVs) could help address this increasing risk.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), long-term exposure to high environmental noise levels such as traffic, above 53 decibels (dB) can result in adverse health effects such as elevated blood pressure, coronary artery disease, hearing loss and even heart attacks.

Noise levels across Asia and Oceania’s major cities, including Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Jakarta, Hong Kong, Manila, Melbourne, Singapore and Seoul average at 76dB — almost four times louder than the recommended noise levels by the WHO.

View of the Nissan noise pollution social experiment in action — blocking an urban street to measure traffic noise, versus electric vehicles.

Noise at these levels are scientifically proven to affect the health of a city’s residents over time and are equivalent to the noise from a ringing alarm clock (about 80db). Conversely, decreased levels of noise pollution bring auxiliary advantages such as fewer road rage instances, increased cognitive performance and productivity.

To creatively educate audiences on this growing health concern, Nissan measured and compared the sound levels of a standard urban street, to that of a street with the sound level of an EV, using a sound level meter. The results showed noise levels peaking at above 90db on the street, compared to 21db, which is the running noise of a Nissan LEAF powertrain, even quieter than a library (around 30db).

When contrasted against the average noise of a stationary petrol or diesel engine at around 76db, EVs are shown to present a viable option to help decrease traffic noise pollution. The benefits even at a societal level can include higher property values and increased levels of pedestrian street activity and social interaction.

“The rate of urbanization in Asia is set to increase, making noise pollution an important issue that we can unite to reduce. As this small test indicates, electric vehicles like the Nissan LEAF’s zero emission, quiet engine has the strong potential to positively improve environmental concerns for societies in Asia and Oceania,” said Yutaka Sanada, regional senior vice president for Nissan Asia & Oceania. “As we journey into the future, Nissan will continue to transform the way vehicles are driven, powered, and integrated, aiming to add value to inspire livable and happier cities of the future.”