Friday, July 6, 2007


Crack down on loud sounds before we all become deaf

NOISE pollution is hardly a major concern for most of us. I am glad Dr Tan Soon Ai is an exception in this matter and has voiced it out well in his letter “Wise Up To Hearing Loss” (The Star, July 4).

Our lives are so permeated with too much music and noise (both can be used interchangeably these days). We are exposed to all sorts of too loud sounds throughout our waking hours.

We get it through various sources such as the radio, express buses, car stereos, hand phone rings, TV stations, shopping malls, and not forgetting the amplified surat khabar lama man.

Better music reproduction technology in recent times has also assured us of much higher loudness levels. Such is the extent of loud noise availability these days that even silence can be a welcome relief to a tired ear.

Musical sounds are taken to extreme levels at discos for people to literally “feel” the music and dance to it. While this may be necessary for disco lovers as no one goes to a disco to chat or discuss politics, why should it be the same, for example, at hotel lounges, shopping areas and road shows in the form of continuous loud music blared over cheap sound systems. Such settings can place much strain on the ear and add stress to the mind.

The negative effects of too loud music are well documented. One such glaring effect is the premature loss of one’s hearing acuity.

Although nature steps in after some time and just blocks off too loud sounds which, though physically present, are not heard by the mind which then gives fuller attention to only any other stimuli that it perceives as being more novel.

This process, known as “masking” in psychology, serves as an emergency exit for the weary mind but damage to the ears is not spared. The twin problems of music and noise pollution should addressed immediately and not in some point in the future.