Hearing loss from noise pollution is becoming a major health risk

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One of the most common features of life in the urban centers of modern Bangladesh is noise pollution. It’s a problem we start and end our (active) day with, but hardly anyone seems to care or know how much of an effect it has on our life and health. A recent survey, conducted by the Bangladesh University of Health Sciences (BUHS), has now revealed a shocking picture: 1 in 4 people – or 25% of people – involved in various road-related professions suffer from road related problems. hearing, and 7%’s problem is so severe that they need hearing aids to listen.

This means that if you are regularly exposed to the cacophony of horns, sirens and loudspeakers in any of the five municipal corporations where this study was conducted – North Dhaka, South Dhaka, Rajshahi, Cumilla and Sylhet – you are probably already affected by some degree. In these areas, according to the survey, noise from road traffic and other sources ranges from 84 to 99 decibels, which is well above the acceptable limit of 60 decibels. It is not a question of minimizing the risks in other urban areas. The survey also reveals occupation-specific data, which is quite illuminating.

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For example, among the most affected groups are rickshaw drivers (about 42%), followed by traffic police (about 31%), rickshaw drivers (about 24%), employees of shops/shops (about 24%), bus staff (about 16%), motorists (about 15%) and motorcyclists (12.5%). On average, they were found to work 11 hours, six days a week, on the roads. Since the survey focused on hearing loss in people who have to be on or around roads as part of their job, the risk to ordinary commuters and passers-by was not covered. But it is also likely to be dangerous, depending on their level and duration of exposure to noise.

It’s no wonder that residents of Dhaka and Rajshahi are particularly at risk, the former being the noisiest city – and the second the fourth noisiest – in the world, according to a report by the United Nations Development Programme. environment published in March. Obviously, the situation has reached a level where we can no longer ignore the threat posed by noise pollution, not only in these cities but throughout the country. Unfortunately, as things stand, we seem to be heading in the opposite direction. On roads and highways, the idea that it is possible to drive without sounding the horn often seems alien to most drivers and vehicle owners. Moreover, there seems to be little political response to this threat. This must change.

We urge relevant authorities – including municipalities, traffic police and the Ministry of the Environment – ​​to take the alarming rate of hearing loss seriously. Professional associations and authorities must also come forward to educate and prevent noise polluters. Relevant noise rules and regulations should be implemented. Only a coordinated effort with the cooperation of drivers/owners can avert impending doom.

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