It is really sad that very few people are aware of the fact that noise is a great pollutant. It is all around us. There is traffic noise, household noise, construction and industrial noise, loud music, noise coming from religious places through loudspeakers, noise of marriage, religious and political processions, rallies, and in the sky there is noise of the aeroplanes and helicopter/s. Yet, we remain unaware of its harmful presence and effects. This dangerous pollutant disturbs our sleep and peace, causes irritation and annoyance, interrupts our flow of thoughts and affects our mental and physical health.
It is as dangerous and widespread as the atmospheric or water pollution. Studies have proved that constant exposure to loud noise results in many mental disorders and physical ailments. Our sensitive ears cannot shut out noise, neither when we are awake nor asleep. So there is a continuous onslaught on our ears in cities, towns and places where industries are located. It is because of this pollution that we have lost much of our sensitivity to finer, softer and subtler sounds.
The relative loudness of a sound is measured in decibels. The lowest audible sound is one decibel. Sounds up to approximately 70 decibels are tolerable but louder sounds become harmful in proportion to their upward increase on the scale. Decibel levels of 90 are a threat to ears and beyond that may cause permanent deafness to a person exposed to it for long periods.
The ubiquity of loud and constant noise produced by traffic, machines, hi-fi music systems, factories, public address systems, aeroplanes, and railway engines, etc. in towns and cities has made life very uncomfortable and intolerable. Consequently, people living in cities and towns do not know what is real peace, proper rest and deep sleep. Even during night there is great noise emanating from factories, sirens, trains and their engines and zooming aeroplanes in the skies. This noise may not arouse us from our sleep but it certainly affects us adversely in many ways. It affects our working, both in terms of quality and quantity.
Noise may sometimes go unnoticed but it certainly produces profound psychological changes in the body and mind.
Frequent exposure to loud noise causes decreased flow of blood in the small vessels, dilation of pupils, tensing of muscles, digestive problems, nervousness, irritation and anxiety. It also lowers the working efficiency, especially in jobs requiring concentration, accuracy and speed. The most glaring effect of noise can be seen in the form of gradual loss of hearing, resulting in deafness.
With the passage of time and increased industrial activity and urbanisation, noise is becoming all pervasive and distracting. Even villages are now no more immune from this nuisance and pollutant.
We are now living virtually in Babel of noises and leading a life sans sanity, sans peace and mental equipoise. Many of our quarrels, acts of irrationality, traffic accidents, and crimes, etc. are the direct result of this kind of living.
City dwellers are in great danger of gradually becoming hard of hearing and ultimately deaf, if it is not noticed and cured in time. The conclusion: more public awareness about the dangers of this pollutant and stricter implementation of the noise control laws. Only increased public awareness can properly deal with the menace, which is growing louder and more dangerous every day. A new concept suggests that planting of trees can also reduce the menace to some extent. Then why not to go green as much and as fast as possible?