Noise pollution, also known as sound pollution, has turned acute in the capital city as it always goes far beyond the permissible level, putting the public health at risk, says a new survey of the Department of Environment (DoE).
The survey conducted at 70 points of the city this year reveals that sound pollution has reached the highest 120-130 decibel (dB) at many points, which is almost double that permissible level.
According to the Noise Pollution (Control) Rules 2006, the acceptable sound condition for Bangladesh is 50 dB for daytime and 40 dB for the night in silent areas, 50 dB for daytime and 45 dB for the night in residential areas, 60 dB for the daytime and 50 dB for night in mixed areas (residential, commercial and industrial localities), 70 dB for daytime and 60 dB for the night in commercial areas and 75 dB for daytime and 70 dB for the night in industrial areas.
The survey shows that noise pollution has increased alarmingly at different parts of the capital, indicating that the highest noise level recorded at Farmgate was 130.2 dB during daytime and the lowest 65.7 dB at night.
The noise level was above 120 dB during daytime at Paltan intersection, Moghbazar intersection, Gabtoli, Tannery Intersection of Hazaribagh, Nikunja, Rampura (DIT Ulan Road), Arambagh intersection, Dhanmondi road-5, Gulshan-1 intersection, Gulshan-2 intersection, Rayerbazar (Mukti Cinema Hall), Tajmahal Road of Mohammadpur, BGB Bazar of Hazaribagh, Madrasah Road of Jurain, Gulistan intersection, Mirpur 10 intersection, Mollah Road of Ibrahimpur, Mirpur-1 intersection, Ceramic intersection of Pallabi, English Road, Banglamotor, Shahjahanpur, Jatrabari intersection, Bongshal, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, Dhanmondi Boys Govt School, New Market, Shishu Hospital, Islampur, Elephant Road, Dholaipar of Jatrabari, Panthapath signal of Green Road, Saidabad, Shantinagar intersection, Lalmatia, Shankar of Dhanmondi, Kakrail Intersection, Mascot Plaza of Uttara, Kazipara, Shahjalal Avenue of Uttara, New Paltan of Azimpur, Motijheel intersection, Tejgaon intersection and Jagannath University.
Among the 70 points, the lowest sound level was found 99.6 dB during daytime and 43.7 dB at night at Road-18 of Uttara-14.
Sound pollution is the disturbing noise with harmful impact on the activity of human or animal life. The source of ambient sound worldwide is mainly caused by machines and transportation systems, motor-vehicles engines and construction works as well.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), generally 60 dB sound can make a man deaf temporarily and 100 dB sound can cause complete deafness.
The survey says sound pollution causes mental and physical illness among the people. It causes high blood pressure, headache, indigestion, ulcer, and also affects sleep. Anyone may become deaf for the time being if 100 dB or more noise pollution occurs for half an hour or more in any place.
Dr Mahfuzur Rahman, a former WHO consultant, said if one is affected from sound pollution for a long time, his or her hearing capacity will dwindle gradually, and once he or she will be sound impaired.
Noting that working in chaotic noise for a long period can cause complete deafness to people, he said children are being adversely affected from sound pollution since it stimulates their brains.
Engr Abdus Sohban, a former DoE additional director general, said a study shows that about 10 percent of city dwellers are now hearing impaired and 35 percent are suffering from low-hearing here due to high noise pollution.
He said although the DoE has announced the Noise Pollution (Control) Rules 2006 to protect public health from sound pollution, it totally fails to enforce the rule putting the health of people at risk.
Contacted, DoE additional director general QSI Hashmi admitted that the existing level of sound pollution - 80-120 dB - is much higher than the acceptable level, which may cause harm to people's health.
Stressing the need for creating awareness about the adverse impacts of noise pollution, he said the DoE is not able to implement the Noise Pollution (Control) Rules 2006 yet due its limitations, but the DoE will strengthen its enforcement activities involving all stakeholders concerned aiming to check sound pollution in the coming days.