* Environmentalist says noise pollution one of primary causes of hearing loss and cardiac disorders
By Abdul Manan (Daily Times)
LAHORE: Noise pollution in the city is on the rise with most residents complaining that the noise is becoming a public nuisance.
Dr Khursheed Ahmad, Department of Environmental Engineering head at the National College of Business Administration and Economics said: “Noise pollution is one of the main causes of hearing loss, cardiac disorders, epileptic seizures, emotional problems and restlessness.”
He said cars and other vehicles were a main cause of the noise. He said the total number of registered vehicles in the city had increased from 45,000 (1976) to 1.5 million in 2008. “Main residential areas such as the Defence Housing Authority, Johar Town, Township, Gulberg, Askari Flats, Faisal Town, and WAPDA Town have noise levels that exceed the National Environmental Quality Standards (NEQSs),” he said.
On August 29, 1993, he said, the Environment and Urban Affairs Division, through a notification, had enforced NEQSs at 85 decibels (dB). He said a recent survey had revealed that residential areas have NEQS levels higher than the permissible levels. He said, “People exposed to 85 decibels for 50 years or more can suffer a permanent hearing loss.”
To curb traffic noise, he said, the Motor Vehicles Rules had been enforced in Pakistan in 1969. He said, “According to the rules, every vehicle should have an efficient silencer. The law restricts the frequent use of horns – especially at midnight.” He said the rules should be modified and should prescribe maximum permissible noise levels for all the types of vehicles currently on the roads.
He said environment impact assessments of new road projects should be made mandatory.
Air ambient standards: Advocate Akhtar H Awan, who deals with environmental cases, said the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) should also establish air ambient standards keeping in view the noise pollution. “Unfortunately, the EPA relies on the World Health Organisation’s standards regarding noise pollution.”
Noise standards: EPA Deputy Director Naseemur Rehman said the EPA would establish the noise standards within a month. He said the EPA had been working to eliminate every type of pollution.