Noise pollution has become a significant problem in Bangladesh, especially in all the divisional headquarters where sound levels are far beyond the acceptable sound level for the human ear, according to a recent study by the Department of Environment (DoE).
In Dhaka, the average sound level is 80-110dB in prime areas such as Farmgate, Karwan Bazar, Shahbagh, Gabtoli and Mohakhali Bus Terminal, says the study report.
This is almost twice the maximum noise level that can be tolerated by humans – 60dB – without suffering a gradual loss of hearing, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Amid this situation, Bangladesh will observe the 23rd International Noise Awareness Day today, along with the world. This year’s theme for the day is “Protect their hearing, protect their health.”
US-based Center for Hearing and Communication (CHC) founded this yearly event in 1996, to be observed on the last Wednesday of April, to raise awareness about the harmful impact of noise pollution, both after short-term and long-term exposure, and to encourage people to do something about bothersome noise where they work and live.
According to the WHO, around 5% of the world population is facing several kinds of health hazards due to complexities related to noise pollution.
Around 11.7% of the population in Bangladesh have lost their hearing due to noise pollution, says the DoE study, which was conducted in 2017.
In order to check noise pollution, the government has introduced Bangladesh Sound Pollution (Control) Rules, 2006.
According to the guidelines, exceeding the maximum noise level in a certain area is a punishable offence.
Also, using a stone breaker machine in a residential area is prohibited, and a permit from the DoE is required to organize any social or religious event that could generate loud noise in a residential area.
However, the rules have never been properly implemented anywhere in the country, the study has found.
The major sources of noise pollution in urban areas are traffic and loud horns.
The DoE found that in Dhaka, 500-1,000 vehicles honk at the same time when stuck in traffic.
Other causes of noise pollution include loud music during social, political, and religious programs, construction work, and factory noise.
Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, residents of different areas in Dhaka complained about how loud noise has negatively impacted their day-to-day lives.
“Commuting in Dhaka, especially if you are ill, is a torture,” said Tausif Islam Chayon, a student of Jahangirnagar University. “A few months ago, I stayed at my brother’s house in Lalbagh when I contracted typhoid. Whenever I had to go out to see my doctor, I became more ill because of all the noise on the roads.”
Dhanmondi resident Sitara Khatun, 62, said: “There are several schools in my area, and loud horns are common when parents come to pick up their children from school. Apart from traffic congestion, these vehicles also create a lot of noise which is a huge problem, especially for me as I have high blood pressure.”
“Also, on national days, loud music is played during political programs in the area at night, which hampers our sleep.”
Speaking on the issue, DoE Director General, Sultan Ahmed, said: “A person may suffer from severe heath complexities due to sound pollution, such as blood pressure, stomach ulcers, brain stroke, amnesia and different types of mental illness.”