Asia Noise News

Less noise from big bikes in Thailand ?

The Land Transport Department is to impose tighter noise control on big bikes or big motorcycles with the noise level not exceeding 95 decibels.

Land transport deputy director-general Mr Wattana Pattharachon said he had already discussed with producers and importers of big bikes about the problem of their loud noise that the department has wanted to control.

He said that from now on manufacturers of big bikes would have their prototype motorbikes sent to the department for examination before production licences were to be granted.

As for the importers, imported big bikes will be examined to determine whether they meet the noise standard set by the department before they can be put on sale, he added.

Mr Wattana said he had informed the manufacturers and importers of big bikes to warn their distributors or dealers not to sell or install substandard exhaust pipes failing that the department might revoke the certificates of the models of the bikes In question.

noisy big motorbikes banned in thailand
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

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.”

Asia Noise News

Residents from GB Road Thane demand sound barriers

THANE: Thousands of families living along the busy Ghodbunder Road are having sleepless days due to the extensive noise levels, especially due to heavy vehicles. Some are also complaining about sleep disorders, general irritation and health disorders.

Seeking relief from the pounding noise of containers, trucks and honking of cars, more than 5,000 residents from Rutu Park and Devashree Gardens have joined hands to demand immediate installation of sound barriers and other environmental protection.

In fact, the noise levels recorded by the TMC from the terrace of Rutu Park in the first week of January revealed shocking decibels all through the day. ”The sound level touched 71.5 decibel in the day, which is way above the permissible level of 55 decibel. At night, the flow of heavy traffic increases and the volume of noise recorded is around 66.5 decibel as against the 45 decibel that has been set by the pollution control department of the TMC,” said a resident of Rutu Park, Rajan Vyawahare.

He added that they have taken up the issue with the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) and Mumbai Entry Point Ltd (MEPL), which looks after the maintenance of bridges on Ghodbunder Road. They have demanded that a sound barrier wall must be installed with immediately effect for the convenience of residents.

”The authorities have put up such sound barriers at BKC, Powai and Dahisar as a protection from the noise from the vehicles speeding on the road. We are asking them to install the same barriers here as it will help reduce the deafening noise,” he said.

Vyavahare said that while containers, trailers and cars create rumbling sounds, ambulances are the noisiest due to their loud sirens. ”Children wake up with a fright and elders have sleepless nights because of the noise. However, it could be reduced if the roads are properly maintained, especially at the slope of the flyover. We have had discussions with the state officials on this issue. The case will also be taken up by top bureaucrats from the MMRDA next week. We are expecting that they come out with a permanent solution to the problem,” he added.