Noise Pollution Ignored

Noise Pollution IgnoredNoise Pollution Ignored

Much attention has been paid over the past decades to air pollution and problems arising from it, but the disturbing noise in Tehran’s streets that has reached an all-time high in recent years and can cause health problems as serious as those caused by air pollution, has hardly been given attention.

Last November, an action plan was approved by the Tehran City Council (TCC) to help reduce noise pollution in the capital. The solutions proposed included adding ‘noise-sensitive zones’ in the vicinity of educational and medical centers as well as reducing maximum allowable decibel levels for vehicles, Salamat News reported.  

However, the plan has not been implemented yet. “We are developing new guidelines at vehicle technical examination centers that will help reduce the maximum permitted sound levels for different vehicles,” said Eqbal Shakeri, a councilor on Tuesday.

“Currently, districts 9 and 20 are the two most noise-polluted areas in the capital. The problem in the western District 9 stems from the aging fleet of aircraft that take off or land at the domestic Mehrabad Airport.”

Reza Jafarzadeh, director of public relations at Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization (CAO) had earlier said that as per a new law, aircrafts are not permitted to take off from the airport between 12 midnight and 5 am in a move to minimize noise pollution during night hours when most people are asleep. However, the day-time aircraft noise is still annoying.

The main reasons for noise pollution in other districts, in particular District 12, are heavy road traffic and transport, construction work and industrial and commercial activities.

The most noise pollution in the rapidly expanding capital city is from cars and motorcycles, and construction activities. More than four million cars including many clunkers ply the over congested and overcrowded capital.

  Sound Barriers

Mahdi Faghani, director general of Traffic Engineering at Tehran Traffic & Transportation Organization says that more than 14,000 meters of sound barriers have been installed so far along the capital’s highways.”

“If more funds are allocated, we would install an additional 1 km sound barrier on the highways by the end of the current year in March 2017.”

Transparent sound barriers (made of resistant glass) have been installed in Kordestan, Hakim and Sadr Highways, he added.

At present, the noise level in residential areas near highways is about 70-79 dB or more while standard sound level is 55 dB during daytime and 45 dB at night.

In Tehran, the noise pollution index is measured by 43 stations set up across the city, based on a unit known as decibel (dB). If the sound pollution exceeds 70 dB, the situation is said to be critical.

Noise pollution can be any unwanted or offensive sounds that unreasonably intrude people’s daily activities. A normal room has a sound intensity of 40 dB. At 45 dB, a person cannot sleep. At 85 dB, hearing is damaged, and at 120 dB, it can be explosive.

Noise pollution affects both health and behavior. Unwanted sound can exacerbate psychological health and cause hypertension, high stress levels, tinnitus, hearing loss, sleep disturbances, and other harmful effects.

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