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Alarms are ringing, but who's listening

Archana Mishra, June 14, 2013, DHNS :
health alert: Medical problems which were earlier reported at the age of 75 are now being recorded at 60 in Delhi.

A survey by MAMC reveals that more people are reporting loss of hearing at an earlier age  .

Get prepared to keep those earphones on the shelf as you won’t be able to use them in the coming years! Surprised? Don’t be, because your auditory cells are facing a slow death.

According to the latest study by the Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health, Maulana Azad Medical College (MAMC), Delhiites are reporting the problem of age-related hearing loss at age 60. The problem which manifested itself at age 75, is now visible a good decade and a half prior.

“There has been constant hearing loss in people. According to our study based on the data over last 10 years, Presbycusis (age-related hearing loss) has come down by 15 years. One out of every four people is suffering from this ailment,” says Dr T K Joshi, director of the Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health, MAMC.

“This is happening because people in the City are uncivilised. Even if it’s a red light they keep honking. They need to be educated. People in some residential areas near the airport or flyovers are genuinely getting affected by this noise pollution.

A few months back when we conducted the survey in Vasant Kunj and Dwarka, we found that owing to airplane sounds and constant movement of heavy and light vehicles around the area, noise pollution levels have far exceeded the permissible limit of 45 db. The level of pollution in these areas was 93 db,” says Dr Joshi.

Surprisingly, the problem is not only confined to these areas. Residential colonies near the flyovers are the worst affected. More and more people from these areas are reporting hearing loss. “There was a time when noise pollution on the third floor of a building near a flyover used to be around 70 db.

This has now gone up to 85 db. Not only this, now the noise pollution is affecting even those living on the sixth floor and above,” says Nasim Akhtar of Transport Planning Division, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)-Central Road Research Institute (CRRI).

“The noise mapping survey clearly indicates that noise pollution has increased both horizontally and vertically. This is because when a vehicle moves on a flyover, the engine is accelerated and subsequent sound produced hits the wall of the flyover and the buildings near it. The problem is compounded by honking. The latest survey clearly shows that honking has increased the noise pollution by 8-10 db,” says Nasim.

The areas worst affected by noise pollution are Ashram, Nehru Place, Nizamuddin and other parts of South Delhi. The South is more affected because of a large number of vehicles, traffic congestion and constant movement of heavy vehicles in bordering cities like Gurgaon and Faridabad.

Dr Joshi points out that even in the Western countries buildings have been built adjacent to flyovers but the problem of noise pollution is under control, for the simple reason that, “people are more civilised. They don’t honk unnecessarily. Secondly, the building material and glass used does not permit sound to penetrate inside homes. I doubt if builders are using that technology here in India,” he reflects.

Since the whole City is under the grip of severe noise pollution, it is time to not turn a deaf ear to the issue!


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