Asia Noise News

Cambodia, Phnom Penh, Risk of hearing loss increasing: experts

Increasing exposure to damaging sound levels in recreational areas and the unsafe use of personal audio devices are putting Cambodians, especially teenagers and young adults, at a high risk of hearing loss, health experts said yesterday.

In a statement issued on Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that at least 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults globally are susceptible to hearing loss due to growing exposure to recreational noise.

Nearly 50 per cent of teenagers and young adults aged 12-35 years are prone to hazardous levels of sound from improper personal audio device use while 40 per cent are vulnerable to potentially harmful levels of sound at entertainment venues, according to a recent WHO analysis of data from middle- and high-income countries.

Although low-income countries weren’t included in the study due to a lack of data, Dr Shelly Chadha, WHO’s prevention of deafness and hearing loss technical officer in the Geneva headquarters, said that the threat is “very real” within the general Cambodian population.

“Cambodia is seeing the same trends with regards to recreational noise so the risks are present there too,” Chadha said.

In the National Institute of Statistics’ most recent Cambodia Socio-Economic Survey, 4,155 Cambodians had hearing disabilities.

NGO Deaf Development Programme (DDP) director Charlie Dittmeier, however, said the current number is much higher, with 51,000 profoundly deaf and half a million hard-of-hearing people in the Kingdom.

“Cambodia is a very noisy culture, which is evident through the wall of speakers present at most weddings, funerals and advertisements in the streets,” said Dittmeier. “Due to these factors and people playing their music really loud, the problem is only getting worse.”

Under the 2014 Disability Rights Initiative Cambodia, the government is planning to initiate some programs targeting hearing loss prevention and increasing hearing impaired people’s access to health and rehabilitation services.

The government also plans to take over the deaf school operated by NGO Krousar Thmey in 2020 and is working with DDP to develop a hybrid Khmer-American sign language, Dittmeier added.

But to further combat the problem and lessen risks, Chadha recommended that the government focus on prevention.

“Prevention, after all, is easier and cheaper than cures.”


Asia Noise News

Malaysia police stop Sunday service over complaints of “Noise”

PETALING JAYA – Policemen stopped a Sunday service at a church which mostly catered to Indonesians in Kajang after they received complaints from the public about the “noise”.

However, the service was allowed to continue after the policemen told the pastor Nelson Sembiling that they would return with the letters of complaints.

Sembiling, who is from Indonesia, said two policemen came 10 minutes after he started delivering his sermon.

“They said they had received complaints about the noise. I asked them if I could finish delivering my sermon first.

“They said I had to stop the service immediately or they would call their superiors. I told them to go ahead,” he added.

The officers then told him that he was allowed to continue with his service, but they would come back with the letters of complaints.

“This is the first time I have been stopped while delivering a sermon,” Sembiling said in an interview yesterday.

He said he then alerted National Evangelical Christian Fellowship (NECF) executive secretary Alfred Tais.

Sembiling said he had no plans to lodge a police report.

He said the church had been located at a different place in Kajang for the past four years until it moved to its present location near the Kajang bus station in September.

The church is attended by Indonesian Christians living and working in the area.

MCA religious harmony bureau chairman Datuk Seri Ti Lian Ker said the church could take legal action if there was any element of trespass or breach of authority by the police.

“We have to know if the action was justified,” he said.

Ti said Malaysians accepted the practices of different faiths as long as they did not deviate from social norms.

Serdang MP Ong Kian Ming, whose constituency covers the current location of the church, said the matter should have been handled by the local authorities, not the police.

Kajang OCPD Asst Comm Abdul Rashid Abdul Wahab said police did not disrupt the service.

“We acted based on a noise complaint and sent two policemen to find out more about the situation. The officers spoke to the person in charge there and were told it was a religious service,” he said, adding that the policemen then left.


Asia Noise News

The Need for Noise-Control

The Need for Noise-Control

Health and safety is often thought of in terms of rogue sharp edges, hazardous walkways, stairway bannisters, or ensure the nuts and bolts of the company are all safe and sound and where they need to be. However, there is one aspect of health and safety that is seldom thought about, and which can’t be seen but is in many ways just as high-risk as any aspect of the workplace, perhaps even more so when spread over many years or decades, and that is: noise control.

The dangers of exposure to high levels of noise are well-founded, but the causes are often thought to be every day and individual things such as attending concerts, listening to MP3 players on a high volume, or not protecting your eyes when riding a loud motorcycle or working with tools; activities that are down to the individual. However, this isn’t always the case, with many workplaces producing dangerous levels of noise that can have a serious effect on a company’s performance and the health of its employees.


Loss of Hearing

The most common side effect of exposure to loud noise is loss of hearing, especially if subjected to the noise for many years. The worrying aspect of losing one’s hearing is that it can never be retrieved, once it’s gone, it’s gone. Though technological advancements improve people’s hearing, these are troublesome and can be expensive. It is an employer’s duty to protect the health of his or her employees, and this includes ensuring their ears are protected from long-term damage.


A workplace exposed to high levels of noise is unlikely to be a happy workplace. This is because humans have a low tolerance for loud noises, and the exposure to such can place a psychological stress on the employee that can cause unhappiness and aggression between colleagues. If your employees are showing signs of aggression without any identifiable cause, it’s worth considering whether the audio and visual style of your workplace is to blame. If so, all that is needed is a simple alteration to have your employees happy and healthy once more.

Alarm Bells

One of the more immediately threatening aspects of having a noisy workplace is that it could prevent employees from hearing alarms, fire or otherwise, or prevent them from hearing the shouts of warning from others. While it might seem difficult to minimize noise in an industrial workplace, there are steps you can take to reduce noise levels. And, as these workplaces are usually the ones that have the most dangerous equipment, ensuring your employees can hear one another is of paramount importance, especially since the consequences could be so tragic.


Equally, in workplaces that have hazardous materials or dangerous equipment it is important that the worker is able to fully concentrate on the task they have been assigned, and recognize that loud noise can have a significant effect on a person’s ability to concentrate. While the threat might seem distant, it’s important that employees, especially, as said, those who handle troublesome materials or equipment, are able to think clearly without being interrupted by noise.

Tackling the Issue

You don’t have to accept a noisy workplace. If it’s not essential that there be noise (e.g. there is no heavy duty machinery), then do your best to weed out the causes of loud noise. This can be as simple as asking everyone to be considerate when working, or by unplugging any noisy devices when not in use. If there are particular areas that are noisy, limit the time employees spend in these spaces.

Of course, some workplaces are noisy and that can’t be helped. However, you can still do your best to reduce the noise level. You can do this by installing noise mufflers, maintaining your equipment (old equipment tend to be noisier), or by moving the noisiest equipment away from the majority of workers. You can also make it a company practice to buy sound-reduced machinery in the future. In the meantime, you can provide employees with routine ear check-ups to ensure they’re not being affected and provide them with ear muffs or other noise reducing items while they work. The new problems of hearing are only just starting to be fully understood by the scientific community, so do your part and help your employees while they’re being investigated.

this is a freelance article from Gemma Warrick

Asia Noise News

noise barriers for LTA in Singapore

SINGAPORE: The Land Transport Authority (LTA) on Thursday (Jan 15) announced it had awarded a contract to install 3.5 km of noise barriers at nine locations to CKT Thomas.

This is the second contract under Phase 1 awarded by LTA, and the noise barriers will be implemented in Clementi, Eunos and Lakeside after designs and site investigations are completed in the third quarter of 2015, the LTA press release stated.

The works, which will cost about S$17 million, are targeted to be completed in mid-2017. The noise barriers are expected to reduce railway noise levels by five to 10 decibels so residents living near elevated MRT tracks can look forward to an improved living environment, it added.

The LTA had in December 2013 awarded the first contract under Phase 1 to Precise Development to install 10km of noise barriers at 16 locations, following successful pilot projects at Bishan and Jurong East. These works are currently in progress at Admiralty, Marsiling as well as Sembawang, and will next be carried out at Ang Mo Kio, Pioneer and Yew Tee.

All works are on schedule to be completed in 2016, it added.

Phase 2 of the installation programme of about 9km of barriers is projected to begin in 2016, and further details of this will be announced later this year, LTA said.noise barrier Singapore LTA

Asia Noise News

Making noise about keeping the decibels down in Japan


Yoshimichi Nakajima was waiting for the train one day at his local station in Tokyo when he politely asked the station attendant to lower the volume on his microphone. He was told that would be “difficult,” so Nakajima lent a hand by grabbing the mic and throwing it onto the track. He then recounted all of this to the station master, who was speechless. Nakajima, a rare breed of Japanese anti-noise crusader, has also taken a speaker from a liquor store and tossed it outside as well as seized a megaphone from a police officer.

“I’ve done such things on numerous occasions,” he said recently in an email. “And I never once regretted doing them.”

For a culture that places a high value on quiet, Japan can get pretty noisy sometimes, whether it’s the loud and long-winded announcements on trains and buses, the big cacophonous TV screens around shopping centers, the right-wing nationalists’ trucks that drive around blaring marching music and imperialist slogans out of loudspeakers or the infamous election campaigners who likewise promote themselves at ear-splitting volumes.

Though there are laws that limit most amplified sounds in public spaces, they typically aren’t enforced. Campaign trucks are even exempt from the laws, so in 2007 Yu Ito, then a member of the Metropolitan Assembly, set up the No! Senkyo Car network, whose anti-noise logo conveys that message.

When it comes to making noise in public, free speech trumps the right to privacy, a state of affairs that has driven Nakajima to distraction ever since he returned to Japan from Europe several decades ago and realized how noisy his native country is.

Nakajima, 68, is a philosopher and author of a series of books about noise in Japan, including his “Japanese are Half Fallen” (2005), where he provides an account of Japan’s irksome “culture of noise” that includes unnecessary announcements in train stations, the endless loops played in stores, talking escalators and ATMs, and the use of cranked-up loudspeakers just about everywhere. In addition to being a profound annoyance, he argued that such relentless noise desensitizes and even infantilizes people, rendering them docile. But despite his bold acts of protest, he acknowledged that ultimately nothing can be done because “most Japanese people don’t see ‘noise’ as a problem, and a large percentage of them actually want this ‘noise.’ “

Daniel Dolan, a professor of business communications at Waseda University, discovered this when he was writing a paper about the issue titled: “Cultural Noise: Amplified Sound, Freedom of Expression and Privacy Rights in Japan,” published in the International Journal of Communication in 2008.

Dolan, 54, who moved to Japan 20 years ago from Seattle, found that his Japanese wife and acquaintances couldn’t fathom the fuss when he broached the subject and expressed his dismay. Talking to Westerners, however, he encountered understanding, which jibed with a study cited in his paper that found Japanese are far more tolerant of environmental noises than Americans (and less likely to complain about them).

Nevertheless, Japan does have legally binding sound ordinances, much like those of the United States. To prove that these laws were being broken, Dolan took decibel readings with a sound meter where announcements were publicly broadcast and confirmed that they often exceeded the 70-decibel limit. But when he brought the evidence to officials at the local city office and asked why these infractions were permitted, they shrugged and explained that they were understaffed and just had to let it go.

From his research, which focused only on amplified sounds that can’t be avoided, such as those heard outside of stores or in the streets, rather than in places people choose to frequent, such as a pachinko parlor or train, he concluded that there’s one simple way to lower the volume of the soundscape.

“Sound management reform would consist of enforcing laws that are already there,” he said, “not necessarily creating new ones.” But despite the fact that such noise can raise stress levels and cause discomfort, to some at least, he has abandoned this line of inquiry. His paper didn’t lead to any discussion of the matter, and continuing to harp on about it would only alienate people anyway.

“It’s got to be something that Japanese people care about and push to change,” he said. “And I haven’t felt that at all.”

Chris Deegan, an anti-noise activist who hasn’t yet given up the fight, agreed that reform must come from within. Deegan, a 70-year-old translator from London who has lived in Tokyo for over four decades, was once all set to leave Japan because of this very issue. But then, by chance, he heard about an all-Japanese anti-noise group, Shizuka na Machi wo Kangaeru Kai — The Group that Thinks about a Quiet Town — and buoyed by a new sense of solidarity, decided to stay. After the founder quit out of despair, Deegan became the director of the group, which he said has about 60 members nationwide, who are “striving to make Japan just a little quieter.”

He is in charge of the group’s annual publication, Amenity, and organizes get-togethers among members, most of whom are Japanese who have spent some time in the West. Considering the Sisyphean struggle they are up against, they are utterly willing to compromise and have to settle for tiny victories. He and a few members once gently asked an agent at Tachikawa station to turn down the volume or increase the interval of a no-smoking announcement loop they found intrusive. To their surprise, he shut it off. However, six months later it was back on because, the agent said, lots of people had asked why that announcement was no longer broadcast.

“The problem was ordinary people,” Deegan said. “They don’t seem to be affected by it.” Group members also send letters to railway companies and local municipalities and write about their experiences for Amenity, whose latest issue is out this month. For him, the greatest sonic nuisance comes from the emergency PA systems in smaller locales that play melodies and regular announcements that can mercilessly go on and on.

“Ultimately, if we could get Japan down to the level of a Western European country, that would be fantastic,” he said. “But for the time being, if we can just drop the noise any small degree at all, we’ll be happy.”