NOISE IN THE ENVIRONMENT
Noise pollution is defined as any form of noise that disrupts the normal functioning of life. If left unchecked, it can have serious effects on the mind and body of humans as well as animals.
Noise pollution is one of the biggest sources of discomfort, stress and nuisance in Pakistan. In Urban areas and big cities, noise pollution has reached dangerous level. For instance, a survey by the Punjab Environmental Protection Agency claims that the level of noise in Lahore has reached 91 decibels whereas a maximum of 75 s acceptable. This means that the mental and physical health of so many people is already at risk.
The major causes of noise pollution in Pakistan are road traffic construction sites, careless use of electronic appliances and loud speech patterns. Noise coming from different modes of transport, i.e. vehicles, airplanes, trains, ships, proves to be highly stressful for human communities. With the population growth and development in urban areas, the vehicular traffic has also multiplied. This has given rise to immense noise pollution, largely in the form of unwarranted honking by drivers. Also, the mushroom growth of residential colonies near airports and railway stations has exposed residents to permanent and unavoidable source of noise pollution.
Another source of noise pollution in urban areas is the work on construction sites. Construction work in urban areas is usually slow and time-consuming. The transport and equipment used at construction sites, its grilling and piercing sound is a big source of noise pollution. It not only disturbs the general public but also affects construction workers by causing mental fatigue.
Use of technology is another cause of noise pollution. For example, unmonitored use of mobile phones, electricity generators, music systems and TV, all become irritants from time to time. People usually do not switch off their mobiles or put them on silent modes when they enter offices, hospitals, schools and colleges. They also use electricity generators excessively in residential areas and put other residents ill at ease. Moreover, listening to loud music or TV on a loud volume is another source of noise pollution. For this, people need to develop some civic responsibility so that others may not be in trouble because of these careless actions.
(iv)Noise pollution causes not only environmental damage but it also has a negative impact on human health. It can cause aggression, hypertension, high stress levels, hearing loss, restlessness, depression and insomnia. Insomnia can further lead to anxiety, bad temper and emotional stress. In addition, noise pollution can seriously affect the learners. This gives them unnecessary mental and physical tension.
(v)In Pakistan, there is a dire need to bring down the noise levels, coming from different sources. The government must gear up and utilize various means to control unwarranted noise levels. For example, the Punjab Environmental Protection Agency recommends around 55 decibels of noise level in residential colonies and 75 decibels in commercial areas. These figures must be strictly enforced by the government. Furthermore, the government should ensure smooth traffic flow, block noise emitting vehicles from roads, use noise barriers where necessary, and expedite construction work to minimize noise pollution. Also, the residential societies should come forward, frame and enforce rules in their areas to check unnecessary noise producing agents. Offices, hospitals and academic institutions should strictly prohibit the use of mobile phones on campuses for better noise management. Moreover, people should be discouraged to speak loudly in these areas.
(vi)Noise pollution is a serious issue and needs more attention at local and state level. People must develop more awareness about the dangerous impact of noise on human health. It is, therefore, a need to acquire more civic sense and responsible attitude to avoid the unnecessary use of this irritant in the environment. Only then our country would be a much quieter and much more peaceful place to live in.