TODAY -

Noise Ruins and Blights Lives in our Noisy Planet

Kamal Baruah *



Peace and quiet is undeniably luxury for me at home. But my city and the surrounding area have chosen noise that has ruined our serenity.

2019 finally set off at dawn. For me itís another eve of the last year. I wished for peace, twitted a couple of post, chatted with few good friends and had quiet dinner at home. Peace and quiet is undeniably luxury for me at home. But my city and the surrounding area have chosen noise that has ruined our serenity.

DJ Night culture had been embraced by most of the Hotels to cater to a select group of entertainment seekers on that eve. It was festive spirits to cheer for the New Year. The bars and restaurants were rolling out their seasonal cocktails. The rock and roll goers were thronging at Pubs and Hotels. Music lovers went mad at concerts. Shortly after dinner, I realised that the tranquillity of my surroundings had totally been shattered.

On festivals, the noise goes severe. About the same time the loudspeakers take to the air from religious places. The vehicles clogged the motorway, blowing ear- piercing horns. The road rage drivers press the horns out of habit than necessity. The other day I left a movie theatre with a fuzzy feeling in my ears.

Even at my daughterís School Annual Day, the sound was getting unbearable and exceedingly loud. That loudness is definitely not OK. Thus Singers suffer from tinnitus for dealing with noise exposure for hours touring night after night. Does anybody ever wonder if the noise could be damaging our hearing?

Noise is an unwanted and objectionable sound. Music and bells produce a pleasant signal which is called sound but unpleasant sounds are noise. But sometimes one personís music is anotherís noise. Under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, Government of India came up with Noise Pollution (Control and Regulation) Rules in the year 2000 that were amended later.

Section 5 lay down the restrictions on the use of public address (PA) systems. It shall not be used at night except in closed premises. The state Government may permit till midnight during festive occasion not exceeding fifteen days in a calendar year. The maximum noise levels permissible are between 50 and 75 db during day and between 40 and 70 db at night. In private place, it shall not exceed > 5 dB (A).

Do we follow those guidelines? To prevent noise, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) also known as the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit 1992, gives guidelines and precautionary measures to polluters. Those info graphic data need immediate attention towards threshold of hearing (frequency 20 to 20,000 Hz cycles per second and intensity 0 db to 120 db or 0.00002 Pa to 20 Pa).

Surprisingly many hotels do such vandalism by playing DJ on terrace with high decibel audio above threshold limits. Neither they have building design and location nor they have perfect acoustics. A shrill yelling comes out till mid night. They are least bothered about the inconvenience of residents and even not bothered to take permission from the District Administration.

Those are such bizarre and unconvincing fusion of musical forces. Concerned citizen often calls for complaint of late night celebration. Will the authorities measure the actual noise level against the possession of noise exposures of hoteliers? It is a necessity to raise public awareness on the health impacts of noise. Those private parties gotta no right by disturbing others. To cap on noise, no engineering measures are taken by defaulters. Only Legal measures could control of deadly noise emissions that buzzing and ringing in our ears.

No doubts music has many roles. Children are taught Piano/Violin to improve language skills. Young people have a healthy auditory system. Children are more susceptible to noise effects. The higher magnitude of sound effects us from annoying to possible pain, damage to eardrum rapture.

Children are vulnerable to dyslexia, hyperactivity and ototoxic medication leading reduces performance and provoke annoyance responses. We saw musicians wear earplugs to avoid vibration. Even our parliamentarians with protective Ear Defenders are to witness all noise at various Sessions.

Regardless of size, playing any musical instrument can cause harm our hearing, if played loud enough (periodicity) and long enough (duration). Excessive noise seriously harms human health and interferes with our day to day life. It can disturb sleep, causes cardiovascular and psycho-physiological effects, and changes social behaviour

As far as loudness for human is concerned sounds more than 85dba can be dangerous for noise-induced hearing loss. The hearing threshold for breathing is 0-10 dba, quiet conversation at 50 dba, for traffic at 70 dba causes annoying, factory/train at 80 dba for possible hearing damage, jet take off at 100 dba for ear tinnitus, 120 dba for human pain, 150 dba for eardrum rupture.

The prolonged exposure to noise can kill people from heart disease. We suffer a heavy toll of death and disability through exposure to excessive noise. Many are not aware that the sirens on emergency vehicles produce 120 db. Even noise from rock concerts is harmful to animals. Traffic noise alone is harmful to the health of almost every city dwellers. Should I wear earplugs to concerts/festivals next time?

World Health Organisation cautioned the deadly loss of healthy living from environmental hazard especially from air as well as noise pollution. European Union takes serious action on noise to make our earth a quieter place. They offer technical and policy guidance to protect health from time to time. But we in India continue hearing that unhealthy sound levels in our noisy planet.

The festivals are enjoyable and relaxing but we need to enjoy the sounds safely. The other day I could not sleep until the last shrill laugh at midnight. Hoteliers have no business to shatter the neighbouring environment. Noise has to be controlled at the source itself.

Are earplugs and bedroom swaps a last resort against noise pollution? The hazard is increasing day by day that kills thousand each year. Humanity will have to find a new earth to live if earth becomes uninhabitable.


* Kamal Baruah wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer is from Guwahati and can be reached at kamal(DOT)baruah(AT)yahoo(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on January 05, 2019.



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