The highest noise level recorded around a hospital in London is less than the lowest recorded near a hospital in Mumbai, a study revealed.
The decibel (dB) levels recorded around six hospitals in central London in the second week of May saw a maximum reading of 88dB (as loud as constant ringing noise of a food blender) with traffic as the main source, city-based NGO Awaaz Foundation found.
The NGO had carried out a similar study around six hospitals in the first week of May in Mumbai. The lowest reading was 95.1 dB — seven units more than the highest reading around a London hospital.
The highest noise level around a Mumbai hospital was recorded at 100.5dB, which is as loud as a packed football stadium.
However, in both cases, noise levels were above permissible limits outside hospitals, both at London and Mumbai.
“This tells us that noise levels are a problem all over the world. In London, they have tried to solve it by insulating some of the buildings, apart from keeping noise levels down at main roads by not honking,” said Sumaira Abdulali, convener, Awaaz Foundation.
“In Mumbai, however, we have not taken any of these actions,” she said.
The decibel level of the ambulance was also higher in Mumbai at 100dB compared to 94.4dB in London. In January this year, the state government approved Yuva Sena chief Aditya Thackeray’s suggestion to increase the volume of ambulance sirens to 110-120 dB so that vehicles get the right-of-way through congested roads.
The World Health Organisation estimates that long term exposure to noise levels from 85db to 90db is enough to lead to hearing loss. According to physicists, a 10 dB increase in noise levels doubles the impact on hearing.
Noise pollution not only leads to hearing loss, but can also damage other organs in the human body and can even lead to cardiac ailments.
“Similar to Mumbai, the hospitals in London are also on busy roads. They have made some effort to minimise noise levels so that it does not affect people being treated at wards inside. However, we do not seem to have any such concerns in Mumbai, which we need,” said Abdulali.
Along with Abdulali, London resident Nigel Watts recorded noise levels at the London hospitals. “I have become increasingly concerned about noise especially in sensitive places such as hospitals and decided to measure the noise at six well known hospitals. We found decibel levels to be uncomfortable and higher than typical London levels. All the hospitals are located on busy roads and, in one case, next to a very busy junction,” he said.
Watts added that noise levels inside the hospitals’ lobbies were lower but still uncomfortable. “Most London hospitals now have double glazed windows, so the noise levels in the wards are fortunately much lower than in the lobbies.
The comparison with Mumbai hospitals was striking; noise levels there seem to be significantly higher than the already uncomfortable levels in London,” he said.