We all hate loud, uncontrollable, annoying noise. But have you ever stopped and wonder what the effects of noise are to yourself and your environment, namely, our intricately balanced ecosystem? Well I have. I have no choice. I live in a country where no one ever stops, or sleeps, or turns down the volume on anything. So, I did some digging and this is what I found.
Noise pollution is also referred to as environmental noise. The word noise comes from the Latin word nausea meaning seasickness. So there is no joking about the effects of unwanted noise on the human ears and the ears of mother nature.
Most outdoor noise, and this is worldwide, is transportation systems , including cars, planes, and trains. Poor urban planning can increase or aggravate the situation by placing residential and industrial buildings next to each other.
Other sources of outdoor AND indoor noise pollution are car alarms, emergency service sirens, office equipment, factory machinery, construction work, groundskeeping equipment, barking dogs, appliances, power tools, lighting hum, audio entertainment systems, loudspeakers, and noisy people. Okay this is what the research lists as the common sources of noise pollution. Now I would like to add to this list OTHER sources that I have had to deal with, ready:
- Never mind the pack of dogs fighting and growling at 3am, how about the gaggle of cats in heat. I will take a pack of rabid dogs any night.
- Roosters. These damn critters just do not play by their OWN rules. There is no cock-a-doodle-do at sunrise, it’s all goddamn day!
- Donkeys. Man these guys really know how to irritate the hell out of you. And it is always at 3am! Have you ever heard donkey’s having sex? Well I think I have, and it is not pretty. I just hope it is with other donkeys. Sorry, I had to!
- Loudspeakers, I get that. Here, EVERYBODY owns a loudspeaker and they use it to sell their wares. I mean come on! Really? I can see your cart of produce. I do not need to hear you proclaim that you have the best tomatoes in Egypt, every 10 minutes for 8 hours!
- Car alarms? Really? Well here, rather than stay in your lane and signal to change lanes, it is a free for all, and you tap your horn to let people know that you are coming, to tell pedestrians to get the hell off the road because heaven forbid you stop for them, or you tap your horn just to be damn annoying. And these are not regular horn sounds. Oh no! There are cars here where their owners think they are super cool because their car sounds like an ambulance or some alien-like creature. Honestly, here, the traffic NEVER let’s up.
- And last, but certainly not least, yes I am going to say it, I am going there, is the call to prayer, salat if you will. I get it, it is a cultural and religious thing. But here is the thing. Call to prayer happens five times a day. That’s right, five times a day. And if you are lucky you live somewhere where there are maybe one or two mosques. Ya, that is not likely, because there are never one or two mosques. In the small town of Elisha I have the comfort of hearing only one mosque, but even then it does not bother me because it is being drowned out by the donkey’s fornicating, the cats engaging in a massive orgy, and the roosters are just bloody crazy. Here in Alex, FIVE times a day, I can hear at LEAST 4 mosques competing for the call for prayer. Now if you have had the pleasure of hearing the Koran recited in its mother tongue, Arabic, you will agree with me it is very melodic and poetic. But when announced over a loudspeaker with 4 other loudspeakers, not in sync, to me, well it sounds no different than cattle call, and frankly it is quite disturbing.
Lately, there seems to be no break between salat. Lately, it sounds as if it is one continuous stream of annoying static. So here in Alex, the call for prayer goes something like this:
- Fajir 4:33 am
- Sunrise 6:11 am
- Dhuhr 12:57 pm
- Asr 4:36 pm
- Maghrib 7:43 pm
- Isha 9:11 pm
When they do the call for prayer they say, “Allahu Akbar” many times along with some other Arabic words. It can last between 5-10 min.
Now the story supposedly goes that when Mohamed built the first mosque, a place to pray (please note that Mohamed’s wives lived in this mighty mosque as well. There was no segregation of the sexes. Gotta love dogma), they wondered how they can remind people that it is time to pray. Imagine this was a time around 624 AD, approximately. Also note, during Mohamed’s time, salat was only required three times a day, not five, again, dogma. Let’s just all agree that whatever the belief or idea, over time it changes. Things are forgotten, and well, like everything it becomes less religious and more political. The true essence slowly dies away. That’s whole other blog post. So now we got this call to prayer. I get it. During those times the only way to tell time was by the position of the sun, and certainly no one had watches or cellphones back then to keep track of time, so naturally a system like a public call to prayer was necessary.
Ok, keep ALL these sources of noise pollution in mind as I tell you the effects that it has.
First there are human health effects and these are:
According to research, stress and hypertension are the leading causes to health problems, whereas tinnitus can lead to forgetfulness, severe depression, and at times panic attacks.
Also, high noise levels can contribute to cardiovascular effects and exposure to moderately high levels during a single eight hour period causes a statistical rise in blood pressure of five to ten points and an increase in stress and vasoconstriction leading to increased blood pressure as well as increased incidence of coronary artery disease.
Now check out the environmental effects. Ya, the animals in the world that live here too and are affected by our actions as well, go figure hey. So noise pollution can cause stress to animals thereby increasing the risk of death by changing the delicate balance in predator/prey detection and avoidance. How does the cat know that the dog is going to attack when the donkeys are going at it and the roosters are insanely cock-a-doodling because some kids are screaming or a motorbike with no muffler is driving by or salat is blasting out over the loudspeakers. Overexposure of noise can lead to hearing loss in animals and can severely disrupt their use of sound in communication.
The impact of noise can reduce the usable habitat for animals and can result in death. Whales have beached themselves, suicide, due to exposure to loud sound of military sonar.
That is why sometimes you will hear birds chirping it up at night rather than the morning, because during the day their communication is interrupted by noise. At night, it is often more quiet and animals can better communicate.
Thankfully in countries like Canada, America and some countries in Europe, there is legal protection against extreme noise pollution. However in countries like Egypt, it is the norm. I often wonder though what the stress levels are like here? I can say that most people seem on edge, and I am sure there are other factors that contribute to that. If you could just eliminate one source of annoyance you may avoid many beached whales.
And just for the record, I have to say, in the year 2010, most if not all of us have access to the time whether it is public clocks, watches, cellphones, or asking someone on the street for the time. So really, is call for prayer necessary? If I am a practicing Muslim, shouldn’t I be responsible for getting myself to mosque? Because there are days where I want to throw open the windows and yell, “Will you just knock it off already, I bloody well get it! Ok!”