By Ivona Bradley
The soothing sounds of nature, be it the song of birds, crickets and tree frogs, or the lulling of the waves of the ocean have been drowned out by the inescapable boom, boom of over-sized, cheap speakers that have somehow become de rigeur in Vincentian society. Unless you are a hermit living up country, you cannot pass a day without your ears being bombarded by excruciatingly loud music. It’s everywhere; cars, vans, rum shops, beach picnics, and private homes. Not only is it loud, it appears to be getting louder with each passing year. Is there a contest we haven’t been told about? What does the winner receive? Free hearing aids?
On a more serious note, loud noise is not simply a public nuisance, it is a known health hazard. NIHS (noise induced hearing loss) may not be instantaneous, it may take years or even decades before it’s noticeable, but it is permanent. Once the hair cells in the inner ear are killed, they do not re-generate.
So how loud is loud? Loudness is measured in decibels (dB). Experts agree that exposure to noise at about 80dB and above can damage hearing. (see diagram)
But wait, there’s more. According to Professor Mathias Basner, secretary of the International Commission of the Biological Effects of Noise, social noise has been associated with sleep disturbance, cognitive impairment in children, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease. Their research has been published in The Lancet.
Basner states that noise can function as an unspecific stressor on the body. Prolonged periods of unwanted noise can cause the body to release stress hormones like adrenaline, and can negatively affect blood hormones like cholesterol, which in the long run may lead to hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Epidemiological studies suggest that the risk for cardiovascular disease rises 5 to 15 per cent at every 10-decibel increase.
Clearly, there is a need to increase awareness about the dangers of noise, and as such, noise laws should be vigorously enforced.
Can a society that is already struggling with the effects of metabolic diseases handle these additional health challenges?
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