Episode 25 – “Noise Pollution, COVID-19, and Your Health” by Emma Fagan

Winner; Undergraduate: “Excellence in Podcasting” Competition

Sponsored by the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities in collaboration with the Center for Teaching and the Office of Immersion Resources.

Since early 2020, dialogues have begun swirling around the effects of coronavirus and the implications of global pandemics. In this episode of VandyVox, Emma Fagan is bringing the conversation back to science to discuss its unexpected correlation to pollution, taking home first place in the undergraduate category for the Excellence in Podcasting competition.

While this audio was not produced for a class, it stands strong because it’s still rooted in research. Emma employed interviews of her roommates to take research into her own hands, grounding the conversation to tangible ways we experience noise pollution on a local level. Broadening the scope to the global perspective, she references international publications and cites scientific conclusions regarding the effects of noise pollution on human health.

Supplementary sounds of noise pollution plop listeners into a shared experience as Emma reveals that noise pollution can be unrecognized as a form of pollution by many. Emma’s tactic for revealing noise pollution to the listener is simple yet effective: pause the audio. When listeners return to the podcast, she offers them examples of both indoor and outdoor noise pollution to calibrate their senses.

Scaffolding our learning, once we’re oriented to the existence of noise pollution, she goes on to describe how the resultant stress and annoyance can negatively affect human health and cognition. Onto the final step of the framework, Emma relates noise pollution and human health to COVID-19, citing studies that compared pre-pandemic noise levels and exposure to those in various places after lockdown or stay-at-home orders were mandated. As she references research both domestic and international, Emma builds scientific trust between herself, as the host, and the listeners.


Interviews are a great tool for creating stellar podcasts like Emma’s. Here are a few guides to ensure your future interviews are in great shape:

NPR’s Special Series, Student Podcast Challenge: “Starting Your Podcast: A Guide For Students” (What Makes a Good Interview?)

    • https://www.npr.org/2018/10/30/662070097/starting-your-podcast-a-guide-for-students#interviews

Mark Schaefer’s 5 Steps to Conduct a Superior Podcast Interview

    • https://businessesgrow.com/2017/05/25/podcast-interview/


Educational podcasts shine when evidence-based teaching methods are employed, the way Emma implemented informational scaffolding. Convey your content with precision:

The IRIS Center at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College offers free, online resources related to implementing instructional scaffolding:

    • https://iris.peabody.vanderbilt.edu/module/sca/cresource/q1/p01/


Emma’s supplementary sounds made her podcast pop. Add sounds and edit audio for free using Audacity, then publish for free on Anchor:

Audacity, a “free, open source, cross-platform audio software”

    • https://www.audacityteam.org/

Anchor, a “free, beginner-friendly platform for podcast creation,”

    • https://anchor.fm/


To learn more about specific noise pollution topics Emma discussed, please visit the articles below:

Basu, B., Murphy, E., Molter, A., Sarkar Basu, A., Sannigrahi, S., Belmonte, M., & Pilla, F. (2021). Investigating changes in noise pollution due to the COVID-19 lockdown: The case of Dublin, Ireland. Sustainable Cities and Society, 65, 102597. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scs.2020.102597

Münzel, T., Sørensen, M., & Daiber, A. (2021). Transportation noise pollution and cardiovascular disease. Nature Reviews Cardiology, 18(9), 619–636. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41569-021-00532-5

Nicole, W. (2013). Road traffic noise and diabetes: long-term exposure may increase disease risk. Environmental Health Perspectives, 121(2), a60–a60. https://doi.org/10.1289/ehp.121-a60

Bickel, N. (2020). Stay-at-home orders cut noise exposure nearly in half. Michigan News, University of Michigan. https://news.umich.edu/stay-at-home-orders-cut-noise-exposure-nearly-in-half/

Local Learning: Noise pollution and Nashville’s education:

Sutton, C. (2021). ‘We deserve to learn in peace” Hume Fogg students call for party bus regulation in Metro Nashville. Nashville News Channel 5. https://www.newschannel5.com/news/hume-fogg-students-call-for-party-bus-regulation-in-metro-nashville


Written by Kaelyn Warne, Teaching Affiliate at the Vanderbilt Center for Teaching