Noise pollution – what the experts say
Noise pollution can cause permanent ear damage to people hence the need to control noise levels in the communities, Dr Danso Adams of the Ear, Nose and Throat Department of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital said on Wednesday.
Speaking at the launch of the Third National Noise Awareness Day celebrations in Accra, Dr Adams said noise pollution also caused blood pressure to shoot up, the heart beat rate to rise, nervousness, indigestion, emotional upset, irritability and tensions.
The celebrations to be observed on the theme: "Noise Reduction: Our Collective Responsibility" would be used to create awareness about the hazards of noise nuisance and its impact on health and welfare of the people.
It would also be used to create awareness about and the existence of guidelines for the maximum permissible levels for residential, commercial and industrial areas.
Describing noise as any unpleasant sound, Dr Adams said in Europe and the Americas, while most such noises emanated from construction industries, railways and air traffic, noise in Ghana emitted mainly from churches, night clubs and other social gatherings.
He said since noise pollution was the easiest to control among all the environmental pollutions of the world, there was the need for all stakeholders to join hands to reduce noise at sources.
He suggested that manufacturers should be impressed upon to invent machines that generated less noise, drivers should be prosecuted for "blowing their horns haphazardly", the public should be educated about noise levels and parents should teach children how to reduce noise in their homes.
Alhaji Ahmed Yirimea Awudu, Deputy Minister of Local Government, Rural Development and Environment, said excessive noise in the urban environment was gradually becoming a way of life and a culture of lawlessness, which must be curbed by all.
"On daily basis and especially weekends, law abiding citizens and regulatory authorities are overwhelmed by noise from inner cities and suburbs which take a toll on our health, peace and convenience," he noted.
Alhaji Awudu said complaints from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) showed an escalation of the noise nuisance in suburbs of the Accra Metropolis, and that out of a total of 78 complaints received in 2007, 40 per cent was about noise.
He said a recent disturbing phenomenon was the activities of VCD and DVD vendors who moved about the city in vehicles mounted with loud speakers selling their music.
The Deputy Minister appealed to everyone to consider noise reduction as a poverty alleviation strategy to help save "ourselves" from noise pollution and its attendant health problems.
He also appealed to district assemblies and the Police Service to help reduce noise during festive seasons, especially weekends when the peace was likely to be breached. Community leaders and traditional authorities should also sensitise their people on the negative effects of noise.
Mr Jonathan Allotey, Executive Director, EPA said noise pollution was "a loud but silent killer" to which children were more at risk, especially when they were taken to churches and mosques where loud noises were made for long hours.
He said since serious hearing loss was a handicap that led to significant changes in attitude and behaviour or complete social isolation, there was the need to work in concert with all stakeholders to reduce noise hearing impairment in Ghana.
"It is our national desire to return to pristine times when pleasant and soothing sounds like birds singing and wind movement in trees are heard.'
Mr Divine Sappor, Chief Environmental Health Officer, Accra Metropolitan Assembly, said over 31 churches and social clubs have been taken to the court.
Some of the cases are being settled out of court while others have been fined and are being monitored by the authorities.
He expressed concern about the upsurge of churches in residential areas, which, he said, creating a lot of problem for both residents and city authorities.