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Noise pollution in Dhaka out of control: Experts

Dhaka, July 1: Noise pollution in Bangladesh capital Dhaka is reaching alarming levels, severely impacting the daily lives of its residents, a study showed. Increasing traffic, unnecessary honking, rampant use of loudspeakers and other sources of high-decibel noise are disrupting the capital’s normalcy.

Despite existing laws, there is a notable lack of effective enforcement, United News of Bangladesh (UNB) reported on Monday. Experts highlighted that public awareness of the dangers of noise pollution remains low, Xinhua news agency reported. The Centre for Atmospheric Pollution Studies (CAPS) at Stamford University in Bangladesh conducted a year-long study from April 2021 to March 2022, examining noise levels at 10 locations in the capital city.

The research revealed that noise exceeded acceptable limits in all surveyed areas. Specifically, 96.7 per cent of the time in quiet zones, 91.2 per cent in residential areas, 83.2 per cent in mixed-use areas, 61 per cent in commercial areas, and 18.2 per cent in industrial areas, the noise levels exceeded the standard thresholds.

CAPS’s findings underscored the pervasive nature of noise pollution in Dhaka, with 82 per cent of all monitored locations exceeding 60 decibels consistently. Despite the Noise Pollution Control Rules 2006, which set permissible noise levels at 45 decibels at night and 55 decibels during the day for residential areas, and 60 decibels at night and 70 decibels during the day for commercial areas, enforcement remains a significant challenge. Ahmad Kamruzzaman Majumder, professor in Stamford University’s Environmental Science Department, said: “Unnecessary honking, loudspeakers, and construction noise are making daily life unbearable.

This issue is not just about physical health; it also affects mental well-being and even hampers urban plant reproduction and crop yields.” Majumder added that controlling rampant horn usage alone could reduce Dhaka’s noise pollution by 60 per cent. However, poor law enforcement in this regard hinders progress. “We have laws, but their implementation is almost non-existent. For instance, the Noise Pollution Control Rules 2006 mandate quiet zones around schools, hospitals, and mosques, but these are rarely enforced,” he said.

Health professionals are also raising alarms about the long-term impacts of noise pollution. Abul Bashar Mohammad Khurshid Alam, Director General of the Directorate General of Health Services, said: “Noise levels in Dhaka are more than double the acceptable limits, leading to serious physical and mental health issues. “Beyond hearing loss, there is an increase in diabetes and heart complications. Pregnant women, children, and the elderly are particularly at risk. Exposure to noise levels of 120 decibels can cause immediate hearing damage, while consistent exposure to 85 decibels for two hours daily can gradually deteriorate hearing.” Experts have emphasised the need for long-term planning and stricter enforcement of the existing laws.

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