Saturday, 7 June 2014 00:00
For many, the concept of pollution is limited to nature and resources. However, noise that tends to disrupt the natural rhythm of life makes for one solid pollutant. Police nabbed nine buses on Thursday in one hour for using horns that are customarily used to frighten away wild elephants while they were operating within Colombo, creating a link between bad driving and increased pollution.
By definition, noise pollution takes place when there is either excessive amount of noise or an unpleasant sound that causes temporary disruption in the natural balance. This definition is usually applicable to sounds or noises that are unnatural in either their volume or their production. The environment is such that it has become difficult to escape noise. Even electrical appliances at home have a constant hum or beeping sound. By and large, lack of urban planning increases exposure to unwanted sounds. This is why understanding noise pollution is necessary to curb it in time.
Excessive noise pollution in working areas such as offices, construction sites, bars and even in homes can influence psychological health. Studies show that the occurrence of aggressive behaviour, disturbance of sleep, constant stress, fatigue and hypertension can be linked to excessive noise levels. These in turn can cause more severe and chronic health issues later in life.
Loud noise can certainly hamper your sleeping pattern and may lead to irritation and uncomfortable situations. Without a good night sleep, it may lead to problems related to fatigue and one’s performance may go down in office as well as at home. It is therefore recommended to take a sound sleep to give the body proper rest.
Blood pressure levels, cardio-vascular disease and stress related heart problems are on the rise in Sri Lanka and around the world. Studies suggest that high intensity noise causes high blood pressure and increases heart rates as it disrupts the normal blood flow. Bringing them to a manageable level depends on the understanding of noise pollution and how it’s tackled.
The country’s wildlife face far more problems than humans because of noise pollution since they are more dependent on sound. Animals develop a better sense of hearing than humans since their survival depends on it. People and animals become disoriented more easily and face many behavioural problems.
One of the problems about noise pollution is that it gets lost in the noise (pun intended) created by other types of contamination. In a city like Colombo with endless issues from garbage to street children, noise pollution can and often does come bottom of the list. But what Thursday’s exercise proves is that noise pollution can be one of the easiest problems to tackle and it would also do wonders to the overall driving conditions of the capital.
World Environment Day brought an hour of change. It created the space for bus drivers to be given warnings, and for nine buses, albeit out of the city’s thousands, to lessen sound pollution. While drivers were urged not to honk in Colombo for one day, many found it impossible not to do so because of the driving conditions, and though it is easy to scoff at these efforts it is important to keep in mind the importance of at least trying to make a change. One hour can lead to real change but only if people care enough to change.