19 January 2006

Increase in hearing loss due to un-controlled noise

Noise levels of 110 dB and increases in the number of visits to ENT specialists show that noise is out of control in Ecuador.

No clear regulation or environmental law offers any protection for the Ecuadorian population. The existing law establishes some permissible limits but they are not enforced, according to Juan Carlos Fonseca, an environmental consultant.

Up to 110 dB in the streets
One of the main sources of noise pollution in Ecuador in almost all provinces is traffic noise. Campaigns against noise control and sanctions are applied in some regions in order to reduce the noise pollution caused by public transport and the excessive use of cars’ horns.

A study carried out in Loja in 2004 for the Foundation CAJE aimed to determine the noise levels in this Ecuadorian city. Researchers recorded noise levels in crowded and high-traffic locations, such as markets and bus stops. Noise levels exceeded 110 dB in some areas, a condition seen to be acoustically traumatic. “Normally, people should be exposed to 40 to 60 dB,” stated Ramon Aguirre, a doctor and one of the researchers behind the study, in the on-line magazine lahora.com.ec.

More and more hearing damage
The numbers of visits to audiologists have increased. “On average, 15 people visit the doctor daily due to mild, moderate or severe hearing problems”, explained Gladys Espinoza, audiologist at Carlos Andrade Marin Hospital, to lahora.com.ec. “Almost half of them suffer from severe damage to their hearing ability due to noise exposure.” In addition, researchers found a disturbing increase in the number of young people younger than 25 years of age appearing to suffer from hearing damage, added Espinoza.

Enforcing environmental regulations in Ecuador is quite difficult, according to Juan Carlos Fonseca. This is due mainly to the lack of resources and a regulatory board for noise pollution.

Source: www.lahora.com.ec, 30 august, 2005.

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