Noise pollution and the environment

On June 5, the world over graciously marked the 2021 World Environment Day. It is an annual and international event. This year’s theme was “Ecosystem Restoration”. The day was instituted by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly to raise awareness on the dangers inherent in the various environmental abuses worldwide. Of course, no society is bound to thrive in a polluted environment or an environment filled with any form of pollution.

This is a bitter fact we must embrace if truly our desire is to see a society that is full of life. Several plights such as malaria, cholera, depletion of the Ozone layer, loss of hearing, and what have you, as the case may be, being currently faced by mankind, are mainly attributed to environmental mishandling or abuses. Pollution can be defined as the introduction of unwanted substances or contaminants into the natural environment such as air, water and land, which causes adverse effect on the lives of the occupants. In the same vein, noise pollution is the disturbing or excessive sound that has the tendency of harming the activity of human or animal life.

The sources of most outdoor noise worldwide are mainly machines to include musical instruments, power generators, transportation systems, motor vehicles, aircraft, and trains. Poor urban planning may give rise to noise pollution since side-by-side industrial and residential buildings can result in noise pollution in the residential areas.

Similarly, indoor noise can be caused by building activities or music performances, especially in some workplaces. Though noise has been a thing of great concern to mankind for decades now due to its devastating effect, but the recent dimension it has taken has remained the most worrisome aspect of it, that, if drastic approach is not taken to curb the anomaly, it is likely to degenerate into a more horrible situation soonest.

One cannot conclude a discussion on the causes of the current proliferation of noise pollution, particularly in Nigeria, without mentioning the uncalled manner in which most individuals or corporate organizations make use of the sound producing instrument known as loudspeaker.

For instance, in most cases you would see some of the new generation churches display their loudspeakers not even within their church premises but along the street where the church in question is situated, thereby generating series of cacophonies.

The pathetic one is a situation whereby an individual, especially a youth would not enjoy listening to music in a low or decent tone unless the volume of the sound system is at the maximum point. Without mincing words, deriving pleasure from a noisy environment is not just a ridiculous attitude but irrational and barbaric. The most annoying and worrying aspect of this silly behaviour, as stated above, is that the person who indulges in such act is not only causing harm to himself but to their entire neighbours. Also, the noise being generated by the various domestic power generating sets cannot be overlooked while discussing noise pollution. It is obvious that currently virtually every family or bachelor in Nigeria could boast of at least one electricity generator owing to the alarming rate of power instability or failure in the country.

In other words, some families have up to two or three in their possession. Survey shows that over seventy percent (70%) of the aforementioned persons or families live in one-room rented apartment; needless to say that the power generators in their possession are being ignited either at the balcony of their houses or directly behind their windows.

The adverse effect of noise pollution or noise disturbance cannot be overemphasized. High noise levels can contribute to cardiovascular effects in humans, a rise in blood pressure, an increase in stress and vasoconstriction, and an increased incidence of coronary artery diseases.

In animals, noise can increase the risk of death by altering predator or prey detection and avoidance, interfere with reproduction and navigation as well as contribute to permanent hearing loss. Noise pollution affects both health and behaviour. Unwanted sound can damage one’s psychological health status. In addition, noise pollution can cause hypertension, high stress levels, tinnitus, and sleep disturbances, among other harmful effects. It’s noteworthy that sound becomes unwanted when it either interferes with someone’s normal activities including sleeping and conversation or when it disrupts or diminishes one’s quality of life.

In human beings, chronic exposure to noise may cause noiseinduced hearing loss. Older males exposed to significant occupational noise demonstrate more significantly reduced hearing sensitivity than their non-exposed peers, though differences in hearing sensitivity decrease with time and the two groups are indistinguishable by age 79. Noise pollution equally contributes to annoyance among the affected persons.

As the world over commemorates the World Environment Day, we are expected to contribute our respective quotas, individually or collectively, towards curbing the ongoing various environmental abuses, especially misuse or mishandling of acoustics. Noise pollution can be alleviated in many ways. Roadway noise can be reduced by the use of noise barriers, limitation of vehicle speeds, alteration of roadway surface texture, restriction of heavy vehicles, use of traffic controls that smooth vehicle flow to reduce unnecessary braking and acceleration, and enhancement of tire designs.

Similarly, aircraft noise can be reduced by using quieter jet engines as well as altering flight paths and time of day runway. Inter alia, people ought to be advised to make use of an earpiece that has sound filter while listening to music or radio through an ear speaker.

They should also be meant to understand the real beauty behind listening to music in a low tone as well as the health implications of high sound. More so, the churches should be sensitized on the appropriate way of channelling their sound systems during church service or worship hours. On the other hand, the ongoing incessant use of siren by various public office holders must be monitored by the appropriate quarters or authorities. Most importantly, there is a compelling need to implement a legal backing regarding alleviation of noise pollution.

Such measure would be targeted to mandate the owners of power generating sets to construct a mini-house for the said machines in order to profoundly reduce the sound being generated by them, coupled with other directives. Generally, the proposed law would create an avenue whereby any one or organization found abusing the use of any sound equipment would be brought to book without much ado.

It’s indeed the duty of all to support this crusade targeted to put an outright end to this lingering monster called noise pollution. Think about it!




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