Excessive noise very often diminishes the quality of life for people who live in cities. According to the World Health Organization, it may even have a negative effect on their health. Experts say that it is of concern because it can cause hearing loss, stress, high blood pressure, sleep loss, and a loss in productivity. Children who go to school in noisy environments may develop reading deficiencies. You can’t see, smell, taste, or touch it but noise, the bane of modern urban life, now pollutes the countryside.
At the end of a tiring day, you drop into a deep sleep. Suddenly, you are dragged back to consciousness by the barking of a preacher. You turn over in your bed and hope that the irritating noise will soon cease. But it persists. Over and over again, the preacher yaps away. Annoyed, frustrated by sleeplessness, and now wide awake, you wonder how your neighbors can put up with such a racket.
People vary greatly in the way they tolerate noise. Airport employees who live near a runway are much less disturbed by aircraft noise than those whose work is unrelated to planes. The housewife who uses an electric food processor tolerates its noise far better than the person in the next room who is trying to read a book or watch TV.
Since the ear is the “best detector” of noise, it is obviously the organ most likely to suffer harm from it. Damage to the sensitive nerve cells of your inner ear can cause permanent loss of hearing. People vary in their response to loud sounds, it is true. But repeated exposure to sounds above 80 to 90 decibels can lead to gradual loss of hearing. Indeed, the higher the noise levels are, the less time you can spend daily in that environment before your hearing suffers damage.
What effects can noise have on you? One authority states: “Constant noises of moderate to high levels cause stress, fatigue, and irritability.” Being tormented by noise not only takes the joy out of life, but it can also wear a person down physically and emotionally. Prolonged exposure to noise can affect your personality. Prolonged exposure to noise can affect your personality.
A walk around the city of Accra is a tiring sight. The sound from the speakers of the so-called mobile preachers reverberates through your heart and shakes your stomach to the core. Sometimes you wonder who is listening to them. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has stated in their corporate objectives that they will "Guide development to prevent, reduce, and as far as possible, eliminate pollution and actions that lower the quality of life; and also to apply the legal processes in a fair, equitable manner to ensure responsible environmental behaviour in the country".
Is the EPA living up to its cooperate responsibilities in ensuring that noise pollution is reduced to its barest minimum? Well, I'm yet to find that out. In addition to the mobile preachers; funeral and wedding receptions are prolonged into the night with loudspeakers being mounted at the community. We are worried.
Most who have suffered from noise pollution recognize a gradual wearing down of their resistance to the disturbance. They echo the view of one woman whose noisy neighbors constantly played loud music: “When you are forced to listen to something you don’t want to, it wears you down. . . . Even when the noise stopped, we were waiting for it to start again". With noise so all-pervasive, many people simply do not realize when they are causing a disturbance to others. If they knew, some would no doubt cease the offending activity.
But the authorities must work.
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