Noise from gadgets, machines can affect your hearing. Quieten them | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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Noise from gadgets, machines can affect your hearing. Quieten them

You may be blocking outside noise from entering your apartment, but your gadgets and machines make a lot of noise too. Quieten down to stay healthy, say experts

mumbai Updated: Oct 17, 2017 19:20 IST
Noise levels up to 70dB are acceptable to the human ear, according to the World Health Organization.
Noise levels up to 70dB are acceptable to the human ear, according to the World Health Organization.(FILE)

Obscuring the view and blocking the breeze with German double-glaze, sound-proof windows was against Rajesh Vora’s natural inclination as a photographer.

“But there’s a difference between noise and torture,” said Vora, who decided to replace the windows of his two-bedroom Andheri apartment two years ago to escape the ambient noise, which would often spike to 80dB (the sound level of a blowdryer or kitchen blender).

Noise levels up to 70dB are acceptable to the human ear, according to the World Health Organization.

“We could file complaints with the police or state authorities, but eventually, I chose the well-being and peace of my family and replaced the windows,” Vora said. “I could afford the three-fold cost of replacing these windows, but not everybody can.”

Like Vora, more and more people in the city are finding ways to cut down the noise indoors, and that’s documented in the growing demand for soundproofing. “The demand for soundproofing windows, doors and even ceilings has increased multifold in the past five years,” said Pankaj Joshi, executive director, Urban Design Research Institute (UDRI). “People are also opting for green buffers, which is having a balcony full of plants to buffer the noise waves.”

A study conducted at the Madan Mohan Malviya University of Technology in Gorakhpur suggests simple ways to curb indoor noise. Researchers said there is a need to implement speed limits on roads, promote the use of silencers, and use soundproofed cages for generators, among other things. As most of the ambient noise is because of road traffic, the study also suggests that old, noisy vehicles be phased out, no-horn zones be demarcated, noise barriers be provided, and trees be planted wherever feasible.

While much is being said and some little is being done to tackle noise generated in public places, indoor noise pollution has received hardly any attention. However, according to health experts, indoor noise, that is the noise around you at home or at your workplace, is getting just as bad and hazardous.

Other than outdoor noise that percolates indoors, there’s such a thing as indoor noise, which is typically caused by constructions, repairs, music, machines and devices used in our daily living. It is not governed by festivals, though indoor noise does get louder during celebrations, and there is no respite from it through the year. It may not be as annoying as outdoor noise, but indoor noise pollution too can reach significant levels.

Dr Sanjay Helale, head of ENT department at Kohinoor hospital, Kurla, said that as houses get smaller in size, ventilation has decreased, which worsens indoor noise pollution. “So many electronic devices are used simultaneously in a household. For example, the grinder and TV run together, and that definitely adds to noise pollution,” he said, adding that these devices can have noise levels of up to 45dB.

In offices, photocopiers, printers, coffee machines, telephones, conversations, air ducts and lighting fixtures all contribute to the din. At homes, it’s the washing machines, refrigerators, vacuum cleaners, air-conditioners, gaming stations, televisions, kitchen blenders and music systems.

Doctors advise against using noisy electronic gadgets together. Dr Rajeev Nerurkar, ENT specialist at Bombay hospital, Marine Lines, said music systems, home theatres, pujas and yagnas are all significant contributors to noise pollution. “Indoors, with the air-conditioner on, noise reverberates, increasing the magnitude of the sound,” he said.

Constant indoor noise decreases hearing sensitivity, especially of higher frequency sounds (above 4000 hertz). “This particularly affects clarity in hearing,” Dr Nerurkar said.

While government puts up sound barriers at busy traffic junctions and highways and people install sound-proofing, it’s also important to keep a conscious check on the noise you generate at home.

Curbing noise, experts said, is not the sole responsibility of the government. If the people and the state work together, noise pollution can be dealt with a little more easily.