Noise pollution is hurting us
This is not a popular subject because loud noises have become a part of our new culture, and sadly most people feel very little can be done about it.
That may be true ,because as long as we, the people, and that includes our leaders, are overly silent on this important matter, elevated noise levels unchecked ,could hurt us all.
We may have become almost immune to loud noises, whether it is a motor bike roaring pass with the sound of a low flying aircraft ,The grinding machines of a nearby construction site, or the use of a lawn mower on a Sunday afternoon with little regard of how it could be disturbing others, not to mention excruciating loud music bursting from cars and homes.
Most of us are fully aware that Bermuda is not the quiet place it once was, and there is little chance of returning to an atmosphere that deemed us the Isles of rest. This should be of some concern to tourism officials who must know any negative element that affects the people, is not a plus for our product. Progress brings many changes especially in lifestyle patterns, and some of them can have a negative impact on the quality of community life.
Although the state of our economy, too many gun incidents and the underworld of illegal drugs continues to worry most Bermudians, there are other problems that also need attention. The inability of many of our students to study and retain to get higher grades ,could partially be linked to noise pollution in its various forms. Major noise pollution studies have been conducted throughout the world ,including the United States and Europe ,and some of the findings are disturbing.
Studies reveal that over a period of time, elevated noise levels create stress, Hypertension and can impact cardiovascular activity. Research into excessive noise also indicated it has the potential to stimulate aggression ,and has been connected to other forms of anti social conduct.
In fact, one study in the United States showed many young people today suffer hearing impairment 2.5 times greater than their parents, as a result of excessive noise level exposure. It is estimated that by the year 2050, at least 50 million people in that country will have serious hearing impairment.
Here in Bermuda where there is limited space, excessive noises penetrate homes on a daily basis since hundreds of houses are close to main roads used by all types of vehicles. The big question facing the country is whether we can reduce or control some, of the excessive noise, instead of accepting it as normal in the world today.
Some elevated noise levels are affecting the health and perhaps attitudes of many who feel trapped in a society that places little emphasis on noise pollution or the damage it can cause. After global research highlighted the physical harm cigarette smoking causes, and the enormous cost of medical treatment, many countries implemented heavy restrictions including Bermuda, to halt this trend.
It became clear that it was not just the smoker who was at risk ,but second hand smoke was equally if not more dangerous to a persons health. As a result, today very few public places anywhere in world ,will permit smoking as the battle to eliminate this practice continues.
- The same amount of attention should be given to many damaging effects caused by elevated noise levels in a wide range of activity that includes the family enviroment. To some degree we have become a screaming and shouting society, where many conversations competing with other sounds are nothing short of shouting matches.
- If children are exposed to shouting on a daily basis, it is likely to have some effect on how they communicate or react to others later in life. Even in the work place persistent elevated noise levels could have a negative effect on employees over a lengthy period.
- One report mentioned how many people complained of being stressed out and unable to function properly after loud noises late at night prevented them from sleeping. Loud parties running into the wee hours of the morning were cited as a contributing factor. It is not a question of simply shutting down the ability for people to enjoy themselves in a free society. However consideration for others cannot be overlooked.
- Our legislators should consider stronger measures to discourage excessive noise levels, even though it could prove politically unpopular with people who feel their rights are being trampled on. On the other hand those who prefer a quieter existence have rights also.
- Only when more pressure is put on those in authority to seriously address noise pollution will it be possible to take steps to improve the situation. Many of our seniors would welcome moves to reduce excessive noise levels that impact sharply in their sunset years.
- There are countless sounds we have grown to accept such as emergency vehicles, aircraft, thunder storms, and construction equipment to name a few. However it is time to seriously tackle noise pollution and its harmful effects. . Future generations could be threatened, if we do nothing.
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