Author Topic: It's acoustic anarchy with a vengeance  (Read 1326 times)

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Offline sithari

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It's acoustic anarchy with a vengeance
« on: September 05, 2006, 09:42:08 PM »
By Lional Wijesiri

Pollution: The Constitution of Sri Lanka sets safeguards for the sanctity of citizens' homes from unlawful invasion.

However, it seems these safeguards do not apply to noise, and the right to pri0vacy is one of the sacrifices we make for the benefits of modernization and convenience. When it comes to noise assault, particularly the city dweller is disenfranchised as if when he has decided to live in a city he has agreed to accept all the noise that goes with city living.

The major cause of the inconvenience islandwide is generated by transportation systems, principally motor vehicle noise. Poor urban planning may also give rise to noise pollution, since concurrence of industrial to residential land uses, for example, often results in adverse consequences for the residential acoustic environment. The other prominent sources of noise are construction equipment, factory machinery, appliances, power tools and audio entertainment systems.

All these noises have combined to such a degree that noise induced irritation, annoyance and hearing impairment have become a significant public health issue, certainly enough of one to motivate a political response.

In most cases, the lawyers say, you simply cannot sue. You don't even have the right to stop the neighbour's son from pounding away with a full complement of drums and amplified jazz instruments.

City Fathers will tell you it is the price you must pay to live in a city. For example, they say that daytime construction noise is the result of a socially useful activity, and therefore free from restraint. It is a necessary noise and thus excluded from the laws of nuisance.

The existing ordinances of Local Authorities permit daytime mayhem, and do little to protect sleep. If a businessman or a contractor makes a good case for nighttime work, claiming inconvenience or loss of money if he must restrict his operation to daytime hours, city officials can permit such extended activities.

Moderate auto traffic at a distance of 100 ft (30 m) rates about 50 decibels. To a driver with a car window open or a pedestrian on the sidewalk, the same traffic rates about 70 decibels; that is, it sounds four times louder. At a distance of 2,000 ft (600 m), the noise of a jet take off reaches about 110 decibels - approximately the same as an automobile horn only three feet (1 m) away.

Subjected to 45 decibels of noise, the average person cannot sleep. At 120 decibels the ear registers pain, but hearing damage begins at a much lower level, about 85 decibels. The duration of the exposure is also important. There is evidence that among our young people' sense of hearing is decreasing year by year because of exposure to noise, including excessively amplified music.

Although noise maybe an integral part of modern civilization, it would appear that unless some definite steps are taken to reduce the present inordinate levels in both industry and community generally, more people will before long become auditory cripples.

Certain methodologically efficient research studies done on both traffic noise and noise in communities have concluded that elevated blood pressure, heart disease, and psychological trauma are direct consequences of noise exposure. It has been proven beyond doubt that there exists a close relationship between the independent variable noise and such dependent variables as annoyance, anxiety and accidents.

According to a WHO report to the UN Conference on Environment, of all environmental problems, noise is the easiest to control. But the question of control will arise only after the people become aware and convinced of the danger and press the Government to find some solution for it.

What could be done? The No. 1 priority is Education. People can be educated through radio, TV, newsreels in cinema halls about noise pollution. In the family, elders can teach children to keep the TV and radio volume low, low voice talking, not to horn unnecessarily on the roads, avoid quarrelling amongst each other and so on.

Priority No. 2 is the Public Awakening and Control. It is important to realize that public awakening is also very essential for the control and prevention of noise pollution.

In most of the developed countries specific legislations have been made and scientific methods for investigation of noise pollution have been invented.

The science of audiometer and other branches related to sound have been developed and there are various legal provisions to control and prevent noise pollution.

There is an urgent need that the Government should initiate legislation passed for the control of noise pollution. We need a "Noise Pollution Control Act" to meet special Sri Lankan conditions. Apart from such kind of legislation, there should be a city noise control code for all major cities. Creation of unnecessary noise has to be prohibited and should be punishable under law.

In Sri Lanka, most of the persons lack any idea about the ways in which noise pollution could be controlled.

Very few scientists are aware of the problem and its control. Masses are still ignorant of the grave effects of the noise pollution. That is the sad truth.
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