Lahore’s noise pollution may drive people crazy

Average level of noise in Lahore has gone beyond 80 dB which is far higher than the WHO and World Bank guidelines

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Residents of many areas of Lahore have been forced to tolerate rising levels of noise pollution as authorities remain ignorant to dealing with this growing problem.

Amid a clear increase in noise pollution, no authority, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has paid any heed to measuring the noise levels in the city since 2012. Several studies show that people living in areas with high level of noise pollution are often short-tempered and not physically fit. The effects of noise pollution on humans include physiological and behavioral. The physiological effects may result in loss of or impairment of hearing.

According to the World Bank guidelines, the noise level must not exceed 55, 65, 75 and 50 decibel (dB) in residential, commercial, industrial and silence zones, respectively in daytime and 45, 55, 65 and 45 dB, respectively at night. WHO categorizes noise level above 70 dB as painful, which may affect human health. Some of the noisiest areas of the city are Shimla Pahari, Railway Station, Badami Bagh, Chauburgi, Thokar Niaz Baig, Jail Road, Ferozpur Road and Mall Road.

In 2013, in an effort to reduce noise pollution, Lahore’s Jail Road was declared as noise pollution-free due to the presence of scores of educational and medical facilities on it. However, this remained a mere announcement as authorities never measured the noise level on it. The primary agency that measures noise pollution, EPA, does not have any record of noise on this road.

Lahore is currently facing a high noise level in almost all the areas. According to a recent study conducted by Nespak during the construction of Orange Metro Train, the average level of noise in Lahore has reached above than 80 dB which is far higher than the WHO and World Bank guidelines.

A senior official in NESPAK, seeking anonymity, told Minute Mirror that the reason for the increasing noise level in Lahore is poor urban planning. “High-rise buildings, unabated construction work and rising number of vehicles above the capacity of the city’s roads are the major factors that add to the noise pollution,” he said, adding that another reason for increasing noise in the city was elimination of green areas. “In developed countries, high-rise buildings are located at the crowded roads use noise barriers to reduce the noise level,” he added.

Dr Syed Nihal Asghar, an environmental scientist, said that the major outdoor source of increasing noise level in Lahore is the transportation system, including motor vehicles, aircraft and rail. “A significant increase in Lahore’s population has been observed in the last two decades, which is far higher than its capacity,” he said and added, “To accommodate such a big population; it has become necessary to develop infrastructure at a large scale.”

Senior physician Dr Muhammad Rauf believes that high level of noise is making citizens mentally and physically sick. Talking to Minute Mirror, he said that the high noise pollution may cause hypertension, tinnitus, loss of hearing, sleep disturbance and other displeasing effects. Rauf added that stress and hypertension were the main causes of health problems, whereas tinnitus can lead to forgetfulness, severe depression and at times panic attacks.

Talking to Minute Mirror, spokesman EPA, Sajid Bashir said that the agency had been monitoring noise pollution in the past but with the advent of smog, it is now focused on measuring air pollution. He said that the EPA will start measuring noise pollution soon after the smog season ended. On a question, he admitted that EPA could not manage to record noise pollution after 2012.

Samiullah Randhawa is a correspondent covering environment, climate change, food, water and ecology. He is an International Center For Journalists alumnus and a fellow at Kettering Foundation Ohio, USA. He has won two Agahi Awards for reporting on climate change and water crisis. He tweets @sami_randhawa and can be reached at