Noise pollution complaints main worry for city folk
Can cause deafness, heart attacks, stress
Kultida Samabuddhi

Two mime artists perform at the launch of
``Noise Pollution Reduction Campaign Week,
'' run by the Thailand Environment Institute.

Noise pollution problems top the list of Bangkok residents' complaints filed with the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, the city says.

City clerk Khunying Nathanon Thavisin said the BMA received about 7,000 complaints from Bangkok residents in the past three years. Almost a third said they were severely disturbed by noise generated by factories, karaoke bars, and construction sites. Noise pollution attracted more complaints than any other worry.

``Bangkok governors focus only on traffic problems, but disregard environmental and health problems, particularly noise and air pollution. The next city governor should come up with a better policy to make Bangkok a quiet and peaceful city,'' said Mrs Nathanon, who presided over the launch of a campaign against noise pollution that started yesterday.

The one-week campaign is being run by the Thailand Environment Institute (TEI), the Pollution Control Department (PCD), and the BMA, and highlights the damage noise does to hearing and mental health.

Mrs Nathanon said the BMA planned to buy 38 noise monitoring units, costing 7.6 million baht, to supplement the 14 units it has now. Funded by the Danish government, the units would be given to district offices overseeing areas with serious noise pollution.

PCD deputy director Supat Wangwongwatana said new vehicles would soon have to pass noise inspection tests before they could be sold.

A regulation on noise limits for new vehicles has been approved by the National Environment Board. However, it will take about two years for agencies such as the Land Transport Department and the Thai Industrial Standards Institute, to prepare for the new rule.

``The department focuses on tackling traffic noise because we found that the average noise level on city streets was above the 70-decibel standard limit. The most serious spot is at Lat Phrao intersection and Chokechai 4 road, where the noise level reaches up to 86 decibels,'' said Mr Supat.

Noise pollution was also severe at skytrain stations, airports, canals with speed boats, and communities close to expressways.

Kijja Ruangthai, adviser on health and environment at Siam Cement Industry, said noise pollution can gradually destroy people's hearing and mental health.

``In the long run people constantly in touch with excessive noise levels will suffer high blood pressure, heart disease, stress, and loss of balance due to the hearing system disorder,'' said Dr Kijja.

Traffic police and people living in city streetsides were most at risk.

Somrudee Nicro, Director of the TEI's Urbanisation and Environment Programme, said the campaign against noise was inspired by International Noise Awareness Day, held in the last week of April each year. The PCD and the Land Transport Department would check the noise level of private cars, buses, motorcycles and speed boats; hospitals would provide hearing checks free of charge; department stores and entertainment complexes would be asked to lower the volume of their loudspeakers.

``A national day against noise will soon be set aside to warn people about the dangers of excessive noise,'' she said.

Source: Bangkok Post, 31 May 2004, P.2