High noise exposure during critical periods in gestation is a potential stressor that may result in increased risk of implantation failure (miscarriage), dysregulation of placentation or decrease of uterine blood flow, experts say.
America-based National Institutes of Health made this known in an archive of biomedical and life sciences journal publication titled, Reproductive Outcomes Associated with Noise Exposure — A Systematic Review of the Literature.
This is even as the Centres for Disease Control also warns that noise levels can damage the foetus’ hearing.
“This can cause changes in a pregnant woman’s body that can affect her developing baby. Sound can travel through your body and reach your baby. Although this sound will be muffled in the womb, very loud noises may still be able to damage your baby’s hearing,” CDC said.
It added that working in a noisy job when you’re pregnant can affect your hearing and increase your stress levels.
“When the noise level is very high, like a jackhammer or at a rock concert, it may increase your chances of having a baby with hearing problems,” CDC warned.
The American agency said sound can travel through your body and reach your baby. Although this sound will be muffled in the womb, very loud noises may still be able to damage your baby’s hearing.
It said the only way a pregnant woman could protect her baby’s hearing is to stay away from loud noise as much as possible.
Speaking to our correspondent, a Public Health Practitioner, Dr. Dolapo Fasawe, says noise pollution can cause deafness and respiratory distress, particularly in children and the elderly.
She also warned that sudden exposure to loud noise can trigger abortion in pregnant women, and also bring about certain psychological disorders that include depression, fatigue, anxiety and irritability.
Fasawe, who is the General Manager, Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency, said when noise goes above 45 decibel, it can disrupt sleep pattern, which can have dire consequences on people’s overall health.
“Noise is an invisible danger. Noise pollution poses serious health and environmental hazards.
“Noise is an unwanted and irritating sound that causes discomfort when it becomes excessive, and goes beyond the permissible standard or limit for a period of time.
“Exposure to prolonged or excessive noise has been shown to also cause a range of health problems like Stress, sleep disturbance and mental illness,
“It can also trigger heart attack; cause poor concentration, productivity losses in the workplace, communication difficulties, fatigue from lack of sleep, cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment, tinnitus and hearing loss,” she said.
Fasawe said the approved noise level in residential areas must not exceed 55 decibels during the day and 45 decibels at night, adding that 85 decibels is specified for industrial areas, while commercial areas must not exceed 70 decibels.
She said based on research, many children who live near noisy airports or streets have been found to suffer from stress and other problems like impairments in memory, attention level, and reading skill.
The public health practitioner said she disagreed with the belief that noise is a part of us and that only the rich are entitled to serene and peaceful ambience.
According to the World Health Organisation, noise pollution is one of the most dangerous environmental threats to health.
The WHO defines noise above 65 decibels as noise pollution, adding that noise becomes harmful when it exceeds 75 decibels and painful at above 120 decibels.
In 2011, the WHO released the report of a study titled ‘Burden of disease from environmental noise.’
This study collated data from various large-scale epidemiological studies of environmental noise in Western Europe, collected over a 10-year period.
It analysed environmental noise from planes, trains and vehicles, as well as other city sources, and then looked at links to health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, sleep disturbance, tinnitus, cognitive impairment in children, and annoyance.
The WHO team used the information to calculate disability and adjusted life-years, which are basically the healthy years of life lost to ‘unwanted’ human-induced dissonance.
The researchers discovered that at least one million healthy years of life are lost each year in Europe alone to noise pollution.
They concluded that ‘there is overwhelming evidence that exposure to environmental noise has adverse effects on the health of the population’ and ranked traffic noise second among environmental threats to public health, with the first being air pollution.
The study pointed out that while other forms of pollution are reducing, noise pollution keeps increasing.
On how noise pollution can be combated, the LASAEPA GM said, “Noise pollution can be controlled through measures like replacing noisy old machines with modern types, installation of silencers to reduce automobile, machines and generator noises.
“Construction of soundproof structures or casements, tree planting, use of acoustic tiles and perforated plywood on walls, ceilings and floors.”
She noted that all religious houses, clubs and other entertainment outlets are expected to operate within enclosed and soundproof environments with regulated use of speakers, and with due consideration to the wellbeing of others within their environment.
Fasawe explained that the LASEPA LAW 2017 clearly defined various contraventions and provided for regulations, guidelines and standards that stipulated measures to ensure compliance.
She said in order to uphold the interest of the community and further protect their right to a reasonably quiet environment, abetment notices are usually sent to warn noise defaulters.
Fasawe said, “The agency usually embarks on rigorous advocacy campaigns to educate and enlighten Lagosians on dangers inherent in noise making and how to avoid preventable environmental nuisances.
“Strategies adopted for compliance included sensitization and awareness campaigns, stakeholder’s engagement, media publicity, annual noiseless Lagos campaign, mediation on dispute resolution, enforcement and prosecution as last result.”
The LASEMA GM, however, said aside enacting and enforcing strict laws to control noise pollution, self regulation and voluntary compliance remain key to eliminating noise pollution.
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