Bus, MRT and Chinese restaurant among S'pore's noisiest locations: Survey
TODAY Online 27 November 2007
SINGAPORE: Taking a bus, getting on the MRT or having dinner in a Chinese restaurant - everyday activities that we hardly think twice about. Yet they may cause damage to your hearing, according to the results of a Reader's Digest test released on Monday.
In its June test, Reader's Digest measured the sound levels in public spaces in four Asian cities for five minutes at a time, using a certified sound level meter.
The magazine visited places such as shopping malls, restaurants, train stations and streets in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Hong Kong.
The results were staggering. Nearly all locations, tested mostly during office hours, registered sound levels above 70 decibels.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) considers this as the threshold beyond which hearing may be damaged if a person is continuously exposed to the noise.
Someone speaking in his normal voice would register about 50 decibels, while music played loudly would typically reach 80 decibels. In some cases, the sound from the headphones of a music player can reach a deafening 120 decibels and cause physical pain, according to the magazine.
Dr Lynne Lim, a consultant at the Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck at the National University Hospital, said high noise levels could lead to "permanent hearing loss, ringing sound in the ears, stress and difficulty concentrating and resting."
She said noise levels at 85 decibels would be dangerous if a person is exposed to them continuously for eight hours, while "permanent hearing loss can happen after 15 minutes" of noise at 115 decibels.
People also need to be aware that different loudness levels affect people differently, and young children and people with illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension are more susceptible, she said.
In Singapore, the Reader's Digest team found that the average sound level was 80.5 decibels on the MRT from Paya Lebar to City Hall and 81.3 decibels on a bus in Orchard Road.
This is markedly higher than the 60 to 65 decibels in a typical office here, as stated on the National Environment Agency's (NEA) website.
The average sound level inside a Chinese restaurant here was 76.7 decibels, but it peaked for three seconds at 109.5 decibels.
"At 110 decibels, that's like standing next to a jet engine," according to Mr Jim Plouffe, editor-in-chief of Reader's Digest Asia.
An NEA spokesperson told Today that the results of the Reader's Digest test "would not be conclusive" since it measured noise levels for only short periods of time. The WHO recommends that the measurements be taken over 24 hours.
"In Singapore, there are control measures put in place to protect the public from being exposure to excessive noise. For example, the NEA regulates noise from factory premises and construction sites. It is also built into the licensing conditions of public entertainment outlets that licencees must abide by noise control regulations, the NEA said.
Frequent MRT commuter Jason Chia, 38, told Today he felt the noise on the MRT was "quite okay", while 53-year-old Shok Lin said the noise levels "could be lower". Diners Polly Poon, 47, and Marcus Ong, 15, said noise levels were "okay" at their food outlets.
But this does not mean our ears are safe. We may have gotten used to the noise, but "our bodies are reacting to the situation as though we are being attacked", Mr Plouffe said. "Noise pollution is like an infection you are constantly battling … weakening the body to other infections."
I love the crap reason given by NEA. So if they think the result is not conclusive, then shouldn’t they do a more conclusive measurement since they already know WHO recommendation? Why wait till Reader Digest to do the survey?
I guess none of the Elites class take the MRT or Buses that’s why.
These days the noise level on MRT and Buses can be quite unbearable especially when you get teenager blasting their $#$ Music HP at maximum level or a “dear” man speaking on his mobile.
Wonder why they don’ t name that NEA idiot, then we can ask him to take a ride on our World Class Transport System for him to find out how serene it is.
Also NEA is avoiding the problem, instead of admitting further study need to be carry out, they went on to quote how noise at other area are being regulated.
To me this open up another can of worms, Why don’t NEA regulate noise at restaurants and Public Transports?