Noisier than before

This article is written based on a news article posted by TheStar on the 18th of April 2021.

ROAD traffic noise has risen as compared to the condition about 10 years ago.

According to Professor Dr. Mohd Salman Leong, the director of the University Teknologi Malaysia’s (UTM) Institute of Noise and Vibration (INV), the noise condition stated above is based on measurements taken by INV in several locations in Malaysia.

A quick example would be the case at Cheras-Kajang Expressway

  • The average noise levels at daytime along the Cheras-Kajang Expressway in the Klang Valley spiked by 19% or 12.4dBA.
  • The daytime noise level increased from 64 dBA (2010) to 76.4 dBA (2017)
  • The nighttime noise level increased from 57.8 dBA (2010) to 73.2 dBA (2017)

Dr. Salman said that the noise increase is most likely due to the increased traffic volume and vehicles travelling at higher speeds, especially as some toll booths along the highway were abolished in 2012. Another possible reason would be the higher percentage of heavy vehicles on-road, leading to louder traffic.

Aside from that, another case that was reported to have noise level increment is at Taman Tun Dr Ismail , Pinggir Zaaba facing the LDP Highway. During the day, noise levels rose from 65.7 dBA in 2010 to 70.6 dBA, while at night, the levels have increased from 64.7dBA to 67.4dBA.

Dr. Salman mentioned that traffic noise can be considered as the most pervasive and widespread noise source affecting the community. This is because other noise sources that are commonly experienced tend to be more localised, according to Dr. Salman. 

“This is true in Malaysia, and is similar to other cities in the world based on noise studies done in Malaysia and elsewhere.

“This is a direct consequence of physical development, ” he explains.

Based on UTM’s observations and previous studies, the top three causes of noise pollution in Malaysia today are road traffic, construction works and commercial activities, including entertainment premises. Noise pollution in general has increased along with the development in Malaysia in a similar manner as in other countries.

“Acceptable environmental noise is dependent on land use and the community where the noise is generated.

“In an urban residential area, the internationally acceptable noise levels are 65dBA (the volume of laughter) during the daytime and 60dBA (the volume of normal conversation) at night, ” he says.

“Noise levels need to be substantially higher than this to be unhealthy, ” Dr Salman says.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) Guideline for Community Noise and the US Environmental Protection Agency recommend an outdoor ambient noise limit of 75dBA for safe, long-term environmental noise exposure.

“In the workplace occupational health risk for hearing impairment, 85dBA is the recommended noise limit (for an eight-hour working day) for long term exposure for 40 (working) years.

“It is generally safe for a person to be exposed to a noise level higher than the mentioned levels, as safe exposure is dependent on the sound level and duration of exposure, ” Dr Salman says.

Environmental noise pollution is not as unhealthy or damaging as excessive noise in the workplace.

“Noise pollution is generally a disturbance issue.

“It does, however, affect quality of life, can disturb sleep and, for some people, lead to increased stress, ” he says.

But the main effects from noise is usually annoyance.

Higher noise levels would have a higher percentage of the population perceiving the noise to be highly annoying, according to the Department of Environment’s Guidelines on Environmental Limits and Control 2019.

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