Friday, September 18, 2015

Noise Pollution is disturbing our peace and ruining our health


Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's School-on-Air) with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB AM Band, 8 to 9 evening class Monday to Friday (www.pbs.gov.ph)
"Noise, noise everywhere and not a corner of peace and quiet."

It's a potpourri of sound waves of multiple frequencies, sources, and combinations continuously bombarding the eardrum and the whole hearing organ for that matter. And down into the core of our senses affecting us mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

Noise pollution has virtually formed a web into which we are trapped as shown in this illustration. Imagine yourself to be at the center of this web. You are likely to muff your ears with your palms, and add further to the chaos with a shriek, "Stop!"   


And if you are in the middle of a traffic during rush hour, you have to bear with the unimaginable sounds that defy any kind description.  You simply wish you can go through the daily grind whole and sane. But sometimes it is too much.  But you only realize it when noise - like any pollution - has reach acute, if not lethal level.

Which can lead to these deleterious effects:
  • hypertension  as a result of high stress level
  • vasoconstrition and other cardiovascular diseases
  • ischenic heart disease
  • tinnitus or hearing loss
  • impairment of hearing 
  • sleep disturbance
  • nervousness and anxiety
  • loss of sensitivity to pitch and harmony
  • annoyance and irritation
  • birth defects, especially in the womb (especially 15 and 60 days after conception)
  • many other effects, direct and indirect (prone to violence, suicide, etc)

Child development is greatly affected by noise pollution, what with all the disturbances around, such as this cartoon of a young boy whose tolerance has reached the point.  Notice that there are two sources of the disturbance: 
  • external (environmental, those we have very little control or none at all), and 
  • internal (in-house, noise we can help reduce or modify) 

Cross-section of the Human Ear showing the outer and inner structures. The pinna serves as receptor of sound waves which then strike the eardrum and causes it to vibrate. The cochlea receives the vibrations, converting them into nerve impulses which are taken up to the brain to be interpreted. Impairment of these structures lead to partial or total hearing loss.  

Racing for passengers these buses create thundering and irritating noise, and belch thick smoke and unburnt gas.  Commonwealth Avenue, QC
Biologically night time is meant for rest, especially after a hard day's work. Not in the city. Hence, the saying the city never sleeps. This is one reason city dwellers live shorter than do rural folks who have more time for rest and quiet. 
Aerial launching of missile can be heard for several miles along its course. This is a drone warplane in a military exercise. We can only imagine the unbearable sound of war in Syria today, or in South Sudan, and Afghanistan. 
Easter Sunday can be indeed noisy, if not chaotic.  It is the Church single occasion that decimates thousands - if not millions of productive palms (coconut, date, oil palm, buri, anahao, betel, etc) and endangered species, like cycads (Oliva). The thinning of trees and palms reduces buffering of noise since they serve as natural sound barrier.   
The swimming pool is perhaps the happiest body of water on a weekend. For a family, noise is pleasurable, an amplified expression of family bonding.  
Sound is therapeutic.  Take these scenes: Above, giant Christmas tree at UST cum pipe-in music of Christmas; below, world famous choirs - St Mary's Children Choir, and Choir of the World title holder for two times, The UST Choir of the the university's Conservatory of Music.
It's not the absence of sound that we find relief, rather it is the presence of pleasurable, soothing. and harmonious sound we most enjoy.
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"Noise means any unwanted sound. Noise is not necessarily random. Sounds, particularly loud ones, that disturb people or make it difficult to hear wanted sounds, are noise. For example, conversations of other people may be called noise by people not involved in any of them; any unwanted sound such as domesticated dogs barking, neighbours playing loud music, portable mechanical saws, road traffic sounds, or a distant aircraft in quiet countryside, is called noise." Wikipedia 
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