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UNEP Report On Noise Pollution


A February report commissioned by the United Nations Environment Programme on the environmental challenges posed by noise, wildfires and the disruption of biological rhythms of plants, animals and ecological cycles became controversial on account of the mention of a single city, Moradabad.


GS III- Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What was the controversy?
  2. So, is Moradabad the second-noisiest city?
  3. Why are measurements of noise important?
  4. What is India doing about noise pollution?
  5. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

What was the controversy?

  • The first chapter of the report, called Frontiers 2022: Noise, Blazes and Mismatches, deals with noise.
  • It compiles studies about noise levels in several cities around the world and illustrates a subset of 61 cities and the range of dB (decibel) levels that have been measured.
  • Delhi, Jaipur, Kolkata, Asansol and Moradabad are the five Indian cities mentioned in this list and Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh was shown as having a dB range from 29 to 114.
  • At a maximum value of 114, it was the second-most-noisiest city in the list. The first was Dhaka, Bangladesh at a maximum value of 119 dB.
  • While road traffic, industry and high population density are well-known factors associated with high dB levels, the inclusion of Moradabad appeared strange because similar studies in the past had never suggested it to be an unusually noisy city.
  • There was no mention of the city in any of the scientific reports listed out in the bibliography of sources.

So, is Moradabad the second-noisiest city?

  • The author of that chapter said that the confusion stemmed from errors in the bibliography.
  • The actual study linked to Moradabad was: “Assessment of noise level status in different areas of Moradabad city” by Avnish Chauhan, of the Graphic Era Hill University, Dehradun.
  • Incidentally this study was published in 2010 and, as is routine in many studies measuring noise levels, involved measurements in different parts of the city: residential areas, industrial areas and commercial places during the day and night.
  • The 114 measurement was an average of measurements reported from a factory in an industrial zone.
  • Author added that inferring Moradabad to be the ‘second-noisiest city’ was incorrect because the list of cities whose values were illustrated were only indicative.
  • The noise indicators that the different studies/reports included weren’t “necessarily consistent/harmonised and it was generated simply as an example of the spread of noise values that different people have observed in different cities over time in different places.”

Why are measurements of noise important?

  • The most recent World Health Organization (WHO) standards from 2018 established a health-protective limit of 53 decibels for road traffic noise.
  • Noise has a variety of negative consequences on public health, ranging from minor and transitory discomfort to severe and persistent physical damage.
  • Noise at night disrupts sleep and has a negative impact on one’s well-being the next day.
  • According to estimates, 22 million and 6.5 million people in Europe suffer from chronic noise irritation and sleep disruption, respectively.
  • Noise-induced sleep disturbance is especially dangerous for the elderly, pregnant women, and shift workers. Because sleep is required for hormone control and cardiovascular function, noise-induced awakenings can generate a variety of physiological and psychological stress responses.
  • Exposure to traffic noise has been linked to the development of cardiovascular and metabolic illnesses such as high blood pressure, arterial hypertension, coronary heart disease, and diabetes.
  • Long-term environmental noise exposure causes 48,000 new cases of ischemic heart disease and 12,000 premature deaths in Europe per year.

What is India doing about noise pollution?

  • The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) is mandated to track noise levels, set standards as well as ensure, via their State units, that sources of excessive noise are controlled.
  • The agency has a manual monitoring system where sensors are installed in major cities and few cities have the facility to track noise levels in real time. The CPCB also measures noise levels before and after Diwali in major cities, to publicise the impact of firecrackers.

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

  • The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is a leading global environmental authority established in 1972 and Headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya.
  • It sets the global environmental agenda, promotes the sustainable development within the United Nations system, and serves as an authoritative advocate for global environment protection.

The UNEP Publishes:

  • Emission Gap Report,
  • Global Environment Outlook,
  • Frontiers,
  • Invest into Healthy Planet.

-Source: The Hindu

February 2024