Air, noise pollution may cause stress, hearing loss —Experts

Public health experts have called for more actions against air and noise pollution from generators, warning that they can increase stress, fuel other mental health issues, and also trigger chronic health problems like high blood pressure.

The experts also warned that direct exposure to loud or persistent noise can equally lead to hearing impairment, adding that children are more vulnerable to the adverse health effects of noise pollution.

According to them, chronic exposure to fumes coming from generators for about 8 hours a day could cause respiratory diseases, stressing that if not properly managed, the fumes can even choke humans to death. 

Speaking with PUNCH HealthWise, the experts, a director of environmental health management, Dr. Onaeko Wemimo, and a public health expert in Ogun state, Dr. Yusuf Lapite, said soundproofing and using renewable energy can help reduce levels of generator noise. 

Dr. Wemimo noted that generators’ fumes are harmful to human health and that loudness can cause discomfort, mental health issues, and hearing loss.

He said, “Noise has effects that include annoyance, mental health, and also can cause ear impairment. Generator releases some gases into the atmosphere. You know naturally, there is a relationship between humans, plants, and the environment. Human beings will breathe in oxygen. When these plants release oxygen, it takes the carbon dioxide that is released by human activities like the burning of fossil fuel, and the generator releases gases. We have what we call particulate matter, liquid particles. These gases get into the air and it is the same gas you want to breathe in. 

“When you stay in an environment that is devoid of clean air, it is very toxic. It could lead to death because the air that is coming out from that fume affects the respiratory because we are breathing it in. Before you know it, you can break down; the body will only be receiving the polluted air and there is no opportunity to release those air. There is no opportunity to inhale clean air to neutralise that, the tendency of survival is minimal. That is why we are clamoring for renewable energy, we are phasing out this source of energy. There are other devices people can use in replacement of generators. There are various forms of energy we can transient into. 

“It is better to shift to renewable energy than using generators that will be detrimental to health. There is a law concerning law pollution. Even though we have prosecuted, we have fined and sued some premises. We don’t want our first approach to be on the offensive. We approached them first on one in one relationship for them to understand the law.” 

On his part, Dr. Lapite said inhaling generator fumes can damage the lungs. 

He added, “Whatever is in the air that you inhale ends up in your lungs, whatever that comes out from the generator has carbon in it. It is dangerous to be using all these types of generators because when you are enclosed to generator fumes, you can die from them. In the long term, if you inhale the air, you can have lung and respiratory diseases. It can also lead to death because some people are choked to death because of it. A generator should be put in an open space and far away from where they are staying, they should not put it close to where people live.” 

According to a report published by National Geographical, the most common health problem noise pollution cause is Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL). The report also suggested that exposure to loud noise can also cause high blood pressure, heart disease, sleep disturbances, and stress.

The report says noise pollution also impacts the health and well-being of wildlife. Studies have shown that loud noises can cause caterpillars’ dorsal vessels (the insect equivalent of a heart) to beat faster, and cause bluebirds to have fewer chicks. 

It said, “Animals use sound for a variety of reasons, including to navigate, find food, attract mates, and avoid predators. Noise pollution makes it difficult for them to accomplish these tasks, affecting their survival ability.” 

Also, a 2018 review said there was evidence that short-term exposure to noise pollution can temporarily raise blood pressure and increase blood viscosity. 

The review authors suggest that this may occur due to the impact of noise pollution on stress hormone levels and the nervous system. Over time, this stress may contribute to the development of disease.

Another 2018 study in Canada found that preeclampsia, a condition that causes high blood pressure during pregnancy, was more common among pregnant people exposed to higher levels of noise pollution.

A 2014 study by Trusted Source found that chronic exposure to noise for 8 hours a day could cause permanent hearing changes in children, including the inability to hear certain frequencies.

An article in The Indian Journal of Pediatrics noted that noise pollution can affect a child’s hearing at any stage of development, including fetal, infancy, and adolescence.


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