What’s the news?
- A February report commissioned by the United Nations Environment Programme on the environmental challenges posed by noise, wildfires and the disruption of biological rhythms of plants, animals and ecological cycles became controversial on account of the mention of a single city, Moradabad.
What is the Controversy?
- The report called Frontiers 2022: Noise, Blazes and Mismatches which compiles studies about noise levels in several cities around the world and illustrates a subset of 61 cities and the range of dB (decibel) levels has shown Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh as having a dB range from 29 to 114. At a maximum value of 114, it was the second-most-noisiest city in the list, which appeared strange because similar studies in the past had never suggested it to be an unusually noisy city.
- While road traffic, industry and high population density are well-known factors associated with high dB levels, there was no mention of the city in any of the scientific reports listed out in the bibliography of sources.
Why are measurements of Noise important?
- The latest 2018 World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines established a health-protective recommendation for road traffic noise levels of 53 dB.
- The Frontiers report compiled a host of evidence, including the adverse effects of noise on public health, which range from mild and temporary distress to severe and chronic physical impairment.
- Estimates suggest that in Europe 22 million and 6.5 million people suffer from chronic noise annoyance and sleep disturbance, respectively. The elderly, pregnant women and shift workers are among those at risk of noise-induced sleep disturbance.
- Eg: Long-term exposure to environmental noise contributes to 48,000 new cases of ischemic heart disease and causes 12,000 premature deaths annually in Europe.
- Traffic noise exposure is a risk factor for the development of cardiovascular and metabolic disorders such as elevated blood pressure, arterial hypertension, coronary heart disease and diabetes.
- Eg: The 15-year-long studies of long-term residents of Toronto, Canada found that exposure to road traffic noise elevated risks of acute myocardial infarction and congestive heart failure, and increased the incidence of Type 2 diabetes by 8%, and hypertension by 2%.
What is India doing about Noise Pollution?
- In India, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) is mandated to track noise levels, set standards as well as ensure, via their State units, that sources of excessive noise are controlled.
- The agency has a manual monitoring system where sensors are installed in major cities and few cities have the facility to track noise levels in real time.