ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 34

Sound advice against noise pollution

'Deafened citizen' wrote 'why are we so loud' in The Sunday Times of December 31. I agree with him that noise should be strictly controlled for the benefit of every citizen including the noise-makers.

Noise pollution is widespread in Sri Lanka. We ENT surgeons see the effects of noise pollution in our day-to-day patient encounters.
When people of any age are repeatedly exposed to hazardous sound levels of more than 85 dB, without using adequate hearing protection, the result is noise induced hearing loss (NIHL). Loud noise can damage the hearing instantly or often gradually. Consequences of NIHL include tinnitus (perception of ringing, buzzing or hissing sounds in the ears or head), communication difficulties, social isolation and depression.

Many modern jobs are associated with machinery that emit unacceptable levels of noise. e.g. operators of firearms, power tools, power generators, tile cutting machines, grass cutting machines, machines that are used in road construction, and building constructions. Garment factory workers experience hearing impairment years later as a result of chronic exposure to excessive noise. Kottu roti makers, lottery ticket sellers and CD shop owners offer toxic noise to themselves first and to the passers-by secondly.

Many leisure and entertainment activities are associated with toxic levels of noise. e.g. loud music bands are seen at weddings, meetings and ceremonies. Personal stereo systems, home television and mobile phones are set at loud volumes. Crackers, fireworks, and loud toys are freely available. People who live in roadside houses are subjected to intense engine noise and horn noise from racing buses, motor cycles and three wheelers. City traffic is more than 85 dB, and the damage to hearing begins after eight hours of exposure.

Prevention is the key to avoid NIHL which is a preventable condition. Ignorance about NIHL is the main reason why people make noise and don't avoid such noisy places. Law makers, please note, awareness programmes are essential and should encompass school children too. School curricula should contain information on the harmful effects of noise, on hearing and prevention of NIHL.

By Dr. Manaff Sheriff, Consultant ENT surgeon - Via email

Top to the page

Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.