The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), on Friday organized a day’s workshop on ambient noise level guidelines, for block making facilities, pubs and transport unions.
The workshop was to create a forum for engagement between EPA and key stakeholders to find lasting ways of addressing the problem of noise pollution.
Mr. Ebenezer Appah-Sampong, EPA Deputy Executive Director, Technical said the issue of noise has become a problem that refuses to go away and the EPA has been battling it for some time now, adding that it was an issue that required all on board.
He said in homes, lorry parks, communities’ humans tend to generate some form of noise one way or the other and forget that it inconveniences each other, saying society by nature can accommodate some noise but when it goes beyond a certain time then people become agitated.
“Some time ago we came out with the permissible noise guideline. We raised some awareness but still have not made the progress that we want to achieve. We have now moved it further into standards and very soon would become enforceable standards backed by a regulation with some punitive measures,” he said.
Mr Appah-Sampong said the EPA’s intention is that, together, all would become conscious of the impact of excessive noise on our health, so that as individuals and communities we would take steps to minimize it to a very large extent.
“We think that now we would not do a big gathering but meet in small groups, understand each other and then share experiences on what we have done with the guidelines, and how to measure noise, and that would guide us to take our own actions and stop this.
“I believe that, if we are able to tackle it in our small groups, we would be able to achieve it. We expect that from here, we would take steps in our little small way to help address it,” he said.
He urged participants to become ambassadors for the environment and the people, saying if care is not taken, people would have hearing problems and difficulties in their old age.
“The end game is for us to have some groups to help us do some education and help us enforce the standards. We also want to establish Regional and District Task Forces to also enforce the standards,” he said.
Mr. Emmanuel Appoh, Deputy Director, Environmental Quality Department at the EPA said noise is unwanted or irregular noise, which is emitted by a vibrating body and upon reaching the ear causes the sensation of hearing through nerves.
He said Noise pollution is sound that is disordered and irregular producing an unknown pleasant sensation that is unwanted or that interfere with the ability to hear.
He said the major sources of noise include motor, vehicles, traffic, lack of maintenance, driving habits, hawking and commercial activities at lorry parks, markets, machines, information centres, social gatherings, Churches, mosques among others.
Mr. Appoh said noise pollution arises due to certain factors including lack of maintenance of machinery, lack of knowledge on laws and health as well as behavioural Factors.
He noted that some health implication like auditory and non-auditory effects are becoming common, with people especially the young ones losing their sensitivity to hearing because of their exposure to loud noise for long periods of time.
“All these problems can be solved if we switch to new models of machinery, regular maintenance, installation of noise proof materials, change of mindset by citizens and be conscious of the laws of government on noise making,” he said.
He said the EPA Act 490 (1994) mandates the agency to prescribe guidelines and standards relating to air, water, land and noise, to develop ambient noise level guidelines for all zones.
Mr. Appoh said the EPA also works in partnership with stakeholders to catalyze change to make environmental protection and sustainable development a common value.
Mr. John Tettey, Head of Environmental Education Department said the total number of complaints received in the Greater Accra Region from August 2016 to 2017 is 329, 50 from Accra East; 117 from Accra West; and 102 from the head office.
He said when the EPA receives complaints of noise it takes various steps to address it including inviting both the complainant and the alleged offender for a meeting, after which the EPA and offender come to agreement on how to minimize noise to permissible levels consistent with the zoning status of the area.
He noted that where feasible, the complainants and alleged offenders are brought to a meeting, for an amicable settlement, and when all these efforts fail, the complainant is advised to send the matter to a court of law for solution.
The court normally orders the EPA to do noise measurements and submit to court.