Rising vehicle population a threat to your eardrums

Hearing impairment caused by noise pollution emerges as a serious public health issue in State

Updated - March 02, 2018 03:10 pm IST

Published - March 01, 2018 12:45 am IST - Kozhikode

With one motor vehicle for every three inhabitants in Kerala, noise pollution from vehicles leading to hearing impairment is emerging as a serious public health issue in the tiny State which has a high density of human population.

The uptick in the number of people suffering from serious damage to hearing in recent years in Kerala needs to ring alarm bells right in the ears of health administrators and the public, says O.S. Rajendran, president of the Kerala State ENT Association.

“Over the past decade, Kerala’s vehicle population has increased by 500%, while the human population increased by around 10%,” Dr. Rajendran, who is also the vice chairman of the Kerala unit of the National Initiative for Safe Sound (NISS), told The Hindu . “Just from the perspective of hearing impairment, it’s high time the authorities took strong steps to check the growth of vehicle population.”

Dr. Rajendran noted that the entire State could be considered a large city, from Kasaragod to Thiruvananthapuram districts, with human settlements all along. The noise emerging from the continuous flow of traffic, especially the noise of the horn, damages the eardrums of the people living close to the roads without they ever realising it.

“You lose your hearing gradually over several years and hence you often don’t realise it.”

Blaring horns

“The high-decibel horn is the worst villain,” he noted. “We are a horn-loving State and we don’t care what effect the horn noise makes on others’ eardrums.” In most countries, drivers don’t blow the horn at all, but in India blowing horn has been built into the culture. “Drivers tend to blow the horn for no reason at all.” Sometimes, young men blow the horn to show off and as an expression of their manliness.

To check the urge to blow the horn and to educate the people on the evil effects of the horn on hearers, the NISS has for sometime been advocating observation of no-horn day every year.

Wear helmet

Dr. Rajendran would advise motorcycle riders to wear the helmet, not just to protect their brain, but to prevent hearing loss from noise pollution too. “By wearing the helmet while riding, you can cut out 60% of the noise pollution caused by other vehicle drivers,” he noted.

“We don’t need so many cars and motorcycles in our tiny State with high density of people,” he said. “Politicians and administrators should think of ways to prevent further flooding of the roads,” he added.

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