Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Effects Of Noise Pollution


Noise is one of the many forms of pollutions that can create disharmony and dissonance in our physical and mental environments. Sound and noise pollution can pose a serious health hazard to the human being but sadly it is the least of our worries as a nation. The rate at which cities and villages are getting flooded with ear-splitting noise on daily basis is enough to awaken a sleeping whale. Noise as inconsequential as we may consider, it is one of the major causes of ill-health and hypertensive related sicknesses in Ghana today. Already, we are struggling with a very unhealthy lifestyle of eating late at night, drinking excessive alcohol, smoking indiscriminately in public places and inability to exercise. The issue of noise pollution must be taken seriously. Unacceptable levels of noise come from different sources, such as churches, mosques, pubs, and entertainment centres. With the onset of the electioneering, campaign vans have joined the cacophony. In as much one cannot live without some noise, it is equally important to learn to avoid noise that has the tendency of ruining one's health.

The effects may not become apparent immediately, but there could be repercussions later on. Excessive noise can have negative effect on one’s ability to sleep well, a situation which could also result in fatigue, stress, psychological and mental disorders. The most immediate effect is a deterioration of mental health. As an example, people living too close to airports will probably be quite jumpy. Continuous noise can create panic episodes in a person, and can even increase frustration levels. Children who wish to study and even adults who desire to read may not be able to concentrate in an atmosphere of excessive noise as these mental activities require a somehow serene environment for maximum concentration. In situations of excessive noise, it is also difficult for people to converse on their normal voice and consequently shout during casual interaction instead of just talking.

Over time, the mind may just lose its capacity to concentrate on things. When young children are regularly exposed to levels of noise that interfere with speech, they may develop speech or reading difficulties, because auditory processing functions are compromised. Evidence has shown that when children learn in noisier classrooms, they have more difficulties understanding speech than those who learn in quieter settings. Another immediate effect of noise pollution is a deterioration of the ability to hear things clearly especially those in their 60s and beyond. Even on a short-term basis, noise pollution can cause temporary deafness. But, if the noise pollution continues for a long period of time, there's a danger that the person might go stone deaf. Noise pollution also takes a toll on the heart. It is observed that the rate at which heart pumps blood increases when there is a constant stimulus of noise pollution. This could lead to side-effects like elevated heartbeat frequencies, palpitations, breathlessness and the likes, which may even culminate in seizures.

Noise has been associated with important health problems. In 1999, the WHO concluded that the available evidence suggested a weak correlation between long-term noise exposure above 67-70 dB and hypertension. High noise levels have also been known to damage the physical health of small children. Children from noisy residences often have a heart rate that is significantly higher (by 2 beats/min on average) than those of children from quieter homes. Continuous exposure to noise pollution can also cause dilation in the pupils of the eye, which could interfere in ocular health in the later stages of life. There is certainly a law which prescribes the intensity of noise one can make during the day or at night. The appropriate state agencies must begin to enforce the laws. It is true that there have been efforts to enforce the Environmental Protection Act of 1994 (Act 490), but the willingness of the citizens to change their attitudes has rendered the work of the Environmental Protection Agency, and Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies worthless. Cities like Karachi and New York which are among the noisiest in the world have their noises mainly emanating from factories and air crafts. This at least brings something profitable to them. But unfortunately on our side, most of the noise we make is to say the least, useless.

Perhaps, that is why we need to encourage the annual ban on drumming and noise making by the various traditional councils. Noise pollution like many diseases is a silent killer. The death that will kill a man they say begins as an appetite.

BY ELORM KPEDATOR, FORMERLY OF AKATSI COLLEGE OF EDUCATION.

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