Odimegwu Onwumere

It is noise pollution everywhere in Nigeria. Some persons think that it is normal to make noise or that they are immune to noise. As a result of this, many people are suffering from hearing problems, especially children.

According to Momoh Suleiman of Daily Trust, rowdy market scenes, the whining clatter of grinding machines, the second-hand clothes seller screaming his geniuses, the siren of important government functionaries, indiscriminate use of mobile phones and the ubiquitous okada men, all contribute to environmental noise.

A hypothesis by Evelyn, M. Ityavyar, Department of Geography; and Tyav, Terungwa Thomas, Department of Sociology, said: Research has also shown that as the population of a country grows/increases with attendant pressure on the environment especially in the wake of improved technologies, environmental abuse and pollution is nevertheless heightened with corresponding effects on lives of people and other living organisms…

They further highlighted: It has been observed further that man through industrial, agricultural and the ever increasing urbanization process, security and terrorist activities tend to directly and/or indirectly pollute the environment. In Nigeria for instance, environmental issues did not gain official prominence until the 1988 Koko toxic waste dumping saga which also brought to the fore the exigent need to establish the Nigeria Federal Environmental Protection Agency (FEPA), Federal Ministry of Environment and other relevant agencies, ostensibly to tackle environmentally related issues, in the country.

According to the source: These include issues such as environmental pollution, sanitation, depletion of ozone layer, desertification, flooding, erosion, poverty, bush burning, deforestation, soil conservation etc. All these mentioned above are a pointer to the fact that issues of environment and in fact environmental pollution, has taken a centre stage in the nation’s (Nigeria’s) development process.

The stress of that was that sixty per cent of deaf Nigerian children are out of school, said a basis. The World Health Organisation (WHO), had bemoaned that the number of people affected with the hearing impairment has grown from 42 million in 1985 to 360 million in 2011, out of which, children who were said to be suffering from the problem, were given at 32 million children, and they were younger than 15 years old.

Seven million five hundred were said to be under the age of five. Indices have shown that about 14 per cent pupils have some kind of hearing loss. In the views of a pediatrician with an interest in audiology, Prof. Bolajoko Olusanya, has shown that available studies had suggested that up to 2.7 per cent or 162,000 of the six million infants born annually might have hearing impairment.

Of the 120 million babies born yearly in the developing world, it was said that 718,000 are likely to have permanent or sensor neural hearing impairment at an estimated incidence of six per 1,000 live births compared to 2-4 per 1,000 for the developed world.

Against this backdrop, some children in schools, their parents can afford for the hearing aids costs, which was said to cost as much as N600, 000, the electronic aids need accessories, such as batteries and driers, while others cannot afford. Against this scenery, many children are suffering from what experts have described as growing effect of noise, due to poverty.

Most hearing loss at a ripe age was gotten from childhood, said connoisseurs. According to Folashade Adebayo, a Journalist, majority of pupils at the Favour Auditory Oral School, Ejigbo, Lagos, a special school for the deaf and dumb, were not born deaf. It was noted that the Project Director of the school, Mr. Johnson Odigiri, averred that obtainable medical reports had shown that 80 per cent of the pupils were born without hearing mutilation.

So, what was the problem? According to the source, the children attained the ‘soft’ disability, after they received treatment in the hospital following certain infections. Prof. Bolajoko Olusanya had said that there is the need to carry out hearing screening before discharging a newborn from the hospital or health centre. A report by Press Association stressed on February 17 2015, as follows: Generation exposed to constant noise could be losing the ability to hear, noise pollution could be blocking out natural sounds that boost health, hearing is ‘universal learning sense’ active even when we’re sleeping.

Bilkis Bakare in a report, said: “In Nigeria, the broad consciousness of hearing impairment is low. Lack of resources has resulted in very few screening programmes. In Lagos, a recent research has shown that as many as 13.9 per cent of school pupils suffer from hearing loss. Yet, in just 2 per cent of the cases did parents or teachers observe signs of hearing loss.

“This is the finding of a study examining the incidence of hearing impairment in Nigerian school children. The prevalence of noise pollution is a foremost cause of health concern in Nigeria. The Nigeria Hearing and Speech Association (NIHSA), has linked the growing hearing difficulties being experienced by Nigerians to noise pollution.”

With that, Mr. Bayo Olupohunda, a Columnist with The Punch, has decried the danger of noise pollution in a letter he openly sent to Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, saying, “My concern has become necessary due to the danger noise pollution poses to residents. Personally, as a resident living in Lagos, it has become a nightmare. Our health is suffering due to the bedlam our city has become…”

He further stated: “Noise pollution has also impacted on the global perspective of Lagos. In recent years, this city has consistently been rated poorly by the Economic Intelligent Unit in its global livable cities rankings… Everywhere one turns in this city, there is no respite from noise pollution. There is bedlam everywhere. Noise pollution in Lagos has assumed a frightening level…

“Lagos cannot continue like this. The law has to be enforced for some sanity and decency to return. Noise may be the root cause of around three deaths in every hundred traditionally blamed on heart disease according to a study that suggests many thousands of people may be dying because of lack of peace and quiet.

“More people than ever are now complaining about unwanted noise pollution – from rowdy neighbours, street vendors and loud traffic to late-night parties, churches, pubs and clubs. A groundbreaking research from the WHO has provided estimates of the impact of noise revealing a striking contribution of noise to premature deaths…”

Most times, some Nigerians have a thought that their source of electricity should not provide electricity indefinitely. This rather obscure thought was necessitated by the fact that many of the countrymen and women do not know how to live together with their neighbours. The noise they generate from their record players and televisions is enough to make one go mad.

The irony is that when one tells some of the people in this line of behaviour to check their ways, they remind the person of how the complainant does not belong to this country and that the person should go to Europe or America and live.

Many Nigerians get insane with noise and it destabilises their mental setting. Some residents would open, that was to say, amplify the volume of their record players with the view that other neighbours are enjoying whatever their music was.

In the evaluation of this, it is delectable that the noisemakers should make the noise to themselves and should not disturb others with it. Experts have questioned the benefit of creating noise day in day out. Immediately there is electricity, you see some persons exhibiting what one Jean Arp had characterised as “tooting, howling, screeching, booming, crashing, whistling, grinding, and trilling bolster”.

Notwithstanding, children are not sleeping on their oars watching noise pollution destroy them. Momoh Suleiman of Daily Trust on Tuesday, May 27, 2003, wrote an article with the title, “School children campaign against noise pollution.” According to him, the Federal Ministry of Environment in conjunction with the Foundation Bank and the Federal Ministries of Education and Women Affairs invited school children from the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja, to demonstrate through short drama sketches, poetry and mime, the impact of noise on the Nigerian environment.

Suleiman wrote that children from primary and secondary schools in the Federal Capital Territory Abuja, were determined to sound the clarion call. According to him, in a colourful celebration of the International Noise Awareness Day held Thursday 22nd May 2003, the Federal Ministry of Environment’s Pollution and Hazardous Waste Department, brought together in its Green House Auditorium no fewer than seventy school children to present plays and poems with the main theme of sounding a clear note of warning to “stop the noise! It’s harmful”, as the year’s message.

In that highlight, worship centres across the country have been admonished to comply with the international standard on noise, while suggesting the use of sound proof equipment by churches to reduce noise during their worship services. Suleiman decried that noise pollution is an aspect of the environmental degradation that has received little attention.

According to him, the chief agents of the pollution hardly spares a moment in self-examination to measure the devastating physical, mental or psychological impacts which are caused by excessive noise generated at home, at school, in the market place, at work, public places and on our roads or in the atmosphere.

Scholars have however defined pollution as a derivation of the word pollute, which means, to make something dirty or no longer pure, especially by adding harmful or unpleasant substances to it. In another development; the committee on pollution of the United States National Research Council (1965) defined pollution as; an undesirable change in physical, chemical or biological characteristics of our air, land and water that may or will harmfully affect human life or that of other desirable species, our industrial processes, living conditions cultural assets that may or will waste or deteriorate our raw material resources. It was suggested that a prompt legislative framework should be put in place to make laws that would tackle headlong issues of noise pollution in Nigeria.

According to them, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends an industrial noise limit of 75 Decibels (dB) so, much that any sound level above 75 dB is already a pollutant. Nevertheless in dance halls, recording centres, air ports, rail terminals etc. noise is normally heard above 115 dB sound level that must be avoided. This has to be avoided because, at this level, short or long term effects alike that can cause damage to the tympanic membrane – the ear drum is likely to occur. This may either be injurious to the ear or lead to lots of hearing ability – which may result to deafness to the affected members of the society.

Odimegwu Onwumere, is a Poet/Writer, writes from Rivers State. Tel: +2348057778358.

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