Noise pollution as a silent killer
Sir: Sound turns to noise when it is unpleasant or harmful to the ears. Attention is not usually given to noise pollution as compared to air and water pollutions. In some parts of Nigeria, particularly, cities and major towns, noise is regarded as an indication that those areas are developed. That an urban area is characterised by its busy day-to-day economic and social activities, does not necessarily translate to a noisy city as believed by many.
Some drivers have become addicted to honking their horns needlessly and unnecessarily. They honk to greet or exchange pleasantries; they honk to call someone; they honk to hurry traffic personnel to let them pass; they even honk to hurry vehicles ahead of them at signalised junctions where traffic lights are stationed. But drivers, commercial or private, are duty-bound to be quieter on the road.
Today, honking in Lagos has not only become an environmental issue but also a public health challenge as well. The transportation sector, entertainment industry and predominantly, religious worship centres scattered everywhere are, unarguably, the main sources of noise pollution. In fact, a report in January 2021 had it that, 70 per cent of noise pollution in Lagos State is caused by worship centres.
According to the agency in Lagos that is saddled with the responsibility of protecting the environment, Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA), noise pollution has two main effects: Auditory and non-auditory. The auditory effects of noise are deafness and auditory fatigue; the non-auditory effects are annoyance, mental illness, disturbance, stress, loss of work efficiency, interference in speech communication and physical disorder like, increase in heartbeats or blood pressure. One may not even suspect or feel any discomfort until serious damage is done to the ears and a hearing test would have to be conducted for confirmation of damage extent. It happens so because the auditory effect of noise pollution on the body is that it kills slowly and silently.
Due to the importance of a noiseless environment, a day is set aside in Lagos where all drivers are not expected to honk. Lagos horn-free day, which comes up on October 15 every year, is an event that creates massive awareness on the need to achieve a noise-free Lagos. The ‘Lagos No Horn Day’ is an initiative that will help serve as reminders to drivers annually on the need to control noise while on the road. Many drivers are still not acquainted with this noise control awareness campaign that comes up yearly.
A noiseless or quiet environment brings full concentration with increased productivity at work, stress relief, good health, happiness, improved intelligence and self-confidence.
One good way to save and care for our ears indoors or outdoors is to avoid loud sound – noise. Regular hearing test as means of checkup is also recommended for the ears. Achieving a noiseless Lagos is a collective responsibility of all residents as health and environmental challenges occasioned by noise pollution will be greatly mitigated.
Kayode Ojewale is of the Public Affairs and Enlightenment Department of ASTMA.
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