Regulations on noise pollution should be enforced

Scientists have determined that noise, ordinarily, is not a bad thing. But it becomes a pollutant in the environment when it rises to unbearable levels. In Nigeria, noise specifically emanates from electricity generating sets at home and offices and from indistinct high volume music blaring at street-sides as vendors of all sorts of items compete for attention. Noise also emanates from vehicle engine and horns in traffic, construction sites, etc. But the real purveyors of noise are the religious organisations that have, in a bid to outdo one another, become a nuisance in most urban and rural areas across Nigeria. We believe that people can worship their God without disturbing the peace of others who need the solitude of their homes and offices.

It is unfortunate that Nigerians are forced to adapt to unbearable noise levels in their environment, even at the risk of their mental and physical health. The World Health Organisation (WHO) sees noise pollution as one of the most dangerous environmental threats to health. In several communities across the country, including in urban centres, churches, mosques, hotels, event centres, lounges, clubs and party organisers tune their sounds to high heavens without any regard for the convenience or well-being of others.

Fatigued by the hazardous effect of the unrelenting noise especially in Lagos, many residents have had to petition the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA). From time to time, the agency has had to seal some hospitality facilities and worship centres. The government says the issue of noise pollution has become a perennial problem that is posing a serious threat to the sanity, stability and peace of mind of the state’s residents. We believe the Lagos authority is on the right path in acting against those causing noise pollution and we encourage other states to pay similar attention, particularly to enforce existing laws or to promulgate regulations for the good of all. 

Doctors are concerned that pollution worsens spirals underlying health issues, particularly cardiovascular challenges like blood pressure levels and stress related diseases, sleeping disorders, fatigue, as well as hearing problems. It should also be a source of concern that regardless of robust regulations the federal government instituted to curb noise pollution, there has been lack of will to enforce them. For instance, there is the National Environmental (Noise Standards and Control) Regulations of 2009 that has all manner of provisions which the government believes will enthrone a healthy environment for all people in Nigeria, the tranquility of their surroundings and their psychological well-being by regulating noise levels and generally, to elevate the standard of living of the people. The regulation prescribes the maximum permissible noise levels a facility or activity to which a person may be exposed, for the control of noise and for mitigating measures for the reduction of noise. 

In all of these rules, the government stipulates maximum permissible noise levels from a facility in the general environment and that there will be exemptions for those who can prove that high noise levels from their facility is inevitable. Regardless, those who seek exemption are required to apply for a permit to emit noise in excess of the permissible levels, and this permit can be revoked if there is violation of the terms and conditions. Besides, whoever considers that the noise levels being emitted, or likely to be emitted, may be higher than the permissible noise levels are expected to complain in writing but must show or prove personal loss or injury or discomfort caused by the emission of the alleged noise. 

To engender a tranquil environment across the nation, government at the state and federal levels must begin to enforce their laws on noise pollution. 

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