Nineteen year old Dhanesh Patel was spending yet another evening at a local discotheque, hanging out with his friends. The loud, pounding music was the same. But this time, when Patel stepped outside to go home, he felt a temporary deafness and a dull ache in his ears. “It felt like water getting into your ears after swimming, without the wetness. And there was a dull ache which remained till morning. This was the time I decided, no loud music for me”, says Patel.
Patel’s sensitive ears ensured that he cut down on parties and places where pounding music blared for more than four hours. “But noise pollution is all around you – see the traffic and loud horns. It really kills the ears”, says Patel.
Noise pollution is not new to Pune. Festival time sees a plethora of articles being written in newspapers about the hazards of noise pollution. But by the time, citizen interest is built up, coverage stops. Incessant noise, which is either traffic or occupation related can pose serious problems in the long run. Says Dr. Vijay Sonawane, E.N.T. specialist at Ruby Hall, “Any sound above 90decibles, which is heard for prolonged periods of time is called noise. Prolonged exposure to loud music for more than an two hours or so can cause temporary deafness. However, such deafness lasts for only a few hours. Which is why it is essential for young people to take breaks every hour or so, especially when they are listening to such loud music. Exposure to such noise continuously for upto four hours can cause temporary deafness”.
Certain professions have their own noise hazards. For those working in shipyards and the artillery, exposure to noise is a constant threat. “For this reason, the government has made a policy that any occupation which contributes to noise above 90 db must have only an eight hour work shift. For every 5 db above 90, the working period should be reduced to half”, says Dr. Sonawane.
Constant exposure to loud noise leads to deafness, tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and even emotional problems like shyness and schizophrenia. But awareness about noise pollution is gaining. Studies are being conducted by Dr. Bhutada who also heads a rehabilitation institute for deafness, to determine noise pollution levels in crowded city areas. Five basic guidelines are followed to determine the effect of noise pollution on individuals:
- The intensity of the noise which is 90 db and above.
- The frequency which is between 2000 to 3000 hertz.
- The duration of exposure to the noise.
- The susceptibility of the individual and
- Pre–existing conditions like diabetes, which reduce the blood circulation in the ear.