Currently, noise pollution deriving from traffic, industry and leisure activities is one of the main environmental problems that affect people quality of life and health. However, it is very difficult to quantify noise effects, because they depend on people noise level tolerance, environmental noise sources, methods of definition of noise exposure and indicators. The acoustic descriptors currently used, indeed, are hardly understandable for those who do not deal with the topic, thus limiting the comprehension of the damage caused by noise. Consequently, it is essential to provide information that is easier to understand and closer to the noise pollution perceived by people. Innovative acoustic indices, like the Harmonica Index, have been defined in recent years, to overcome the aforementioned limits. Their application to different spatial contexts, with the identification of the background and the event-based components of the environmental noise, can contribute to understand the influence of human activities on the quality of an acoustic environment. In this paper, starting from data acquired both in crowdsourcing and with traditional instruments, the application of the Harmonica Index to urban, peri-urban and rural areas in south Italy will show their acoustic characteristics that could be understood also by a non-technical public.
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