Rapidly increasing environmental pollution has created a deep sense of awareness among the masses of the urgent need to safeguard our habitat. Among the different types of pollution affecting our cities, only air and water pollution have received adequate attention of the environmentalists. The concern for noise pollution, which has received alarming proportions in a number of important cities of the world, including Karachi, has been minimal. It is because of this ignorance that the average noise level in Karachi far exceeds the safe level of 55-60 decibels. In certain areas of the city, the noise levels during the day have been recorded in excess of 100 decibels.
Empirical studies reveal that excessive noise levels pose a grave threat to human health and can cause a number of complications. In a well-researched study on the impact of high noise-levels on human beings, it has been established that consistently high level of noise not only damages the ear drums, but also causes nausea, severe body pains and hypertension which lead nervous breakdowns.
Industries, such as stone crushing, heavy steel and metal stamping and aeronautical engineering is attributable to high noise levels which adversely affect the mental and physical health of the workers. Workers exposed to high intensities of noise of prolonged periods are often found to be irritable and become prone to react violently even to minor differences and disagreements. Extended periods of eight hours of daily exposure to high levels of noise can cause life-long deafness.
With growing environmental awareness, some countries in Europe are beginning to take the problems most seriously. In the Netherlands, the regulations prohibit the construction of housing projects in areas which have high levels of noise pollution, like highways or airports. In addition, construction of anti-noise surface-porous asphalt roads reduces traffic noise by up to 5 decibels.
In major cities of Pakistan, three-wheeler rickshaws and buses playing with defective silencers create about 75% of the traffic noise. Besides, mechanical workshops in the residential areas also contribute to the menace of noise pollution. The citizens must take serious note of the threats caused by noise pollution and should adopt measures and regulations to avoid all kinds of noise pollution.