Hard of hearing

”How about making Bangkok less noisy, governor?” (Postbag, Jan 7), should be required reading not only for candidates but citizens as well. Last week, Outlook printed a worthwhile article called, ”All that noise is damaging children’s hearing”. I wonder how many people bothered to read it, and how many parents took heed, or related to the article seriously.

I am a trained clinical audiologist, (as well as speech pathologist). I deserted Bangkok for the quieter boonies many years ago. On my frequent trips (of necessity) to Bangkok, I notice how many people, including my friends, speak louder than in other cities _ a sign of possible aural damage. Most Thais do not even wince in high noise areas. They are oblivious to the noise. This, too, is a danger sign.

Many years ago, I took part in a study conducted to measure noise in New York City’s subway system. We found that trains created 140 decibels of sound as they roared through some stations. Many New Yorkers have a 10-15 decibel hearing loss by the time they are 18 years old. Do we want the same results for Bangkokians?


City must get serious about noise pollution / I would like to add a few observations to the noise debate in support of the very reasonable appeal in the Jan 7 letter to Postbag.

I live in the vicinity of Lumpini Park and am annoyed by the frequent highly amplified announcements coming from there, always punctuated by a beginning and ending klaxon. Nobody living around Hyde Park or Central Park would believe me that such a supposedly tranquil oasis as a large and beautifully maintained city park as Lumphini is a source of noise pollution in Bangkok.

Then there is the army of whistle-blowers all over town. Traffic doesn’t improve because somebody blows a whistle, but more to the point, why not just direct traffic as, say, in hectic Rome _ by using your arms. Good for the circulation and no noise involved!

One of these days when the BTS has made more money it would be a great blessing to countless ears if the steel wheels were to be replaced with rubber wheels. Consider: the Metro in Paris which runs deep underground, still improves the decibel count by equipping its cars with rubber wheels. What a blessing that is, even if only for the passengers waiting on the underground platforms. Here, in my 14th floor flat I can hear every coming and going train all day and night as if I were living on 3rd Avenue in NYC back in the 1950s!

The crux of the noise pollution in Bangkok lies in the lack of enforcement. We learned in NYC that focusing and punishing all the small infractions of the law brought much improved law and order to the city. This is the only effective way to get to grips with the noise pollution we are all suffering from. It won’t get better until it becomes a real issue (just as the previous writer correctly identified with the cleanliness of Bangkok) and citizens become an involved and committed source against this modern environ mental hazard. Another good example was the infernal problem with dog poop in Paris. When the situation became intolerable the local government instigated a broad programme of cleaning up this nuisance and it created popular support and thus ensured major success.

Fighting noise is a cause to which everyone who still enjoys reasonable hearing should and ought to subscribe. It is a major irritation, if not worse, and unless it gets reversed it is bound to become even worse. It has nothing to do with the size of the city _ it is only a question of changing behaviour for the benefit of everyone.


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