Noise and health

I just wanted to add further comment to a guest column by Horace Green that appeared in a rival publication on February 1, 2013, concerning noise pollution. This contribution noted the negative effect on health that noise and vibration can have, especially to expectant mothers and their babies.

The scientific proof that excessive noise causes ill health needs no further elucidation. But noise itself is akin to an infectious disease. Like all anti-social behaviours it seems to function like a contagion. As people become inured to its effects, they themselves indulge.

A small church progresses from services accompanied by a keyboard and tambourines, to a drum set and microphones amplified at high volume. They blast surrounding homes for hours on a Sunday and weekday evenings, turning a once inspirational and pleasant experience into a painful event to be endured.

There is no consideration for the detrimental effect on the health and well being of their neighbours – the exhausted parent trying to calm a colicky baby, the Alzheimer’s sufferer, those in pain or affected by anxiety or stress, the student or those working from home – all of whom long for some quiet and calm.

Perhaps God himself protects the hearing of the congregation, including the little children, who are forced to come away with ears ringing, not with the words of God, but the vibration and explosions of the speaker system.

If the church is allowed to create such a regular cacophony then surely others in the neighbourhood should have the opportunity also? The proud owner of a vast CD collection who decides to broadcast it at elevated volume all day; the person who likes to sing at the top of their voice at all hours or beseeches and bellows in prayer at 3 a.m.; the harried mother who can only communicate by screaming and bawling – and her children who respond in kind.

In our neighbourhoods we often live side by side, above and below, windows wide open to access a breeze. Noise escapes and disperses amongst us. Old radio sets and tinny speakers have been replaced by top grade super woofing sound systems that can shake the house off its foundations. Surround sound DVD players can make an action movie sound as if we are in a war zone.

Lack of consideration and empathy for others is rampant in this society. People seek to apportion blame on everyone and everything. Even death and ill health is seen as the unfortunate individuals own comeuppance. Combined with the selfishness that seems innate in human kind, we can see the need for properly enforced legislation, not in order to curtail people’s liberties but to constrain their excesses.

To end with a spiritual thought. We might ask why the very young and the older generation have a greater sensitivity to noise. Some thinkers surmise that at both stages of life we are closer to the Creator in our spiritual path. We have either just left his embrace or are returning again towards it. If we are to listen and be open to his message, we need to be able to hear it.

Thanking you for the opportunity to contribute.

— Grace Watson

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