My journey to work every day is usually a long trip, but somewhere around Oshodi the trip gets interesting. From the bus conductors trying to settle the passengers with their change (money), to the “tax collectors” (Touts’) collecting money from the bus conductors or the ladies’ leg that gets trapped in dirty water…
As I sat quietly today looking at the chaos from the glass window of the bus, a large truck pulled up next to our bus.
I had noticed the lady sitting beside me, because of the little baby on her back. How peaceful is this baby, I thought to myself, as she hadn’t made a single sound all through the trip.
Then, the truck driver beside us hooted his horn consistently, frightening the little baby girl; she cried profusely as she stretched her hand towards me. As a typical Nigerian I resisted the urge to carry her, but that resistance flew out of the window when the truck driver hooted again. The little girl was so uncomfortable, she squirmed and cried. Her mother said, “She should have gotten used to it by now”, I quickly jumped in and said “No, the effect it has on us is minimal compared to the effect on infant babies and the elderly”.
As I carried the little one and rocked her from side to side, a certain level of sadness overwhelmed me. She didn’t stop crying until I tried to shield her ear from the noise.
What we fail to understand is noise pollution is real. It has eaten deep into our system and everyone has adjusted to the norm.
I once read an article that said, “Nigerians use the car horn to 1) Greet friends in traffic 2) Tell another driver to receive sense.” How true is this?
Just the other day, the bus I entered was driven by a soldier, and the one by our right was driven by a policeman, both in uniform. As the policeman tried to enter his lane, the soldier hooted a couple of times…meaning, Receive sense!
We cannot talk about car horn as noise pollution without mentioning sirens. The blaring of sirens in Nigeria has become the most common way of clearing the road for politicians to pass.
So many other activities lead to noise pollution – construction work and in Nigeria in particular, loud music blasting from people’s houses and cars.
Here are some facts about noise pollution
- Noise pollution causes an imbalance to human or animal life
- It is the most pervasive pollutant in today’s world
- When elderly people are diagnosed with hearing loss, it is usually as a result of noise over the years mistaken for ageing
- In developing countries it causes about 45,000 heart attacks, yearly
- Traffic is the main source of noise pollution
- There’s a difference between sound and noise. Sound is essential to our daily lives, but not noise
- Noise/Sound is measured by decibels (dB). According to World Health Organization, noise which is more than 115 dB is intolerant
- Noise contributes to birth defects and abnormalities
Believe it or not, there are so many health effects of noise pollution such as:
- Heart attacks
- Hearing loss
- Sleep disturbance
- Tinnitu’s – the hearing of sound when there’s no external sound
- Coronary artery disease such as myocardial infarction, stable and unstable angina
- Stress and agitated aggression
- Presbycusis (in elderly people)
Most of these diseases can ultimately lead to death.
All hope is not lost, as there are certain steps to take to reduce noise pollution:
- I.T: Identify – Isolate – Treat the noise in your area
- Wear ear muffs or ear plugs when in an area with concentrated noise
- Hoot your car horn only when necessary!
- Avoid the use of sirens only during emergencies
- Avoid cleaning the ears often, research shows the ear is self-cleaning
- Protect the ears of infants and young children
- Awareness is key, inform others about the damages
- In case of hearing loss, visit a specialist (ENT doctor)
Extra tip: Avoid sharing earphones with people
Photo Credit: Prudencio Alvarez | Dreamstime