Did you stay quiet for at least a minute yesterday?

“The goal of the day, proclaimed International Noise Awareness Day, is to educate the public about the dangers of noise to hearing and health.”  (http://www.free-press-release.com/news/200804/1208215484.html)

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A minute of silence on International Noise Awareness Day
April 15, 2008
Updated 21:47:19 (Mla time)
Jocelyn Uy
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines — It’s time for some peace and quiet.

Starting at 2:15 p.m. on Wednesday, the 13th International Noise Awareness Day, Filipinos are encouraged to observe at least 60 seconds of silence.

“With just a minute of silence, one can really tell the difference,” Dr. Christopher Calaquian told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Unknown to many, the No. 1 cause of hearing loss in all ages, even in infants, is noise above 85 decibels, according to Calaquian, who chairs the advocacy committee of the Philippine Academy of Neurotology, Otology and Related Sciences (Panors).

Children and teenagers who frequent video arcades are subjected to noise of 90-110 decibels, and long exposure to such noise may cause irreversible hearing loss, Calaquian warned.

The global campaign for hearing conservation and increased awareness on the ill effects of noise in the environment and places of work and recreation is being spearheaded in the country by Panors, a subgroup of the Philippine Society of Otorhinolaryngologists and Head and Neck Surgery (PSO-HNS).

The worldwide effort was first launched in 1995 by the League for Hard of Hearing (LHH), a New York-based organization.

A minute of silence from 2:15 to 2:16 p.m. Wednesday may help make Filipinos realize how much noise is being generated in the country, especially in urban areas like Metro Manila, Calaquian said.

He said the Filipino public could take part in the global campaign against noise by following the simple “Quiet Diet” that the LHH has concocted.

The “diet” tips are:

• Pay attention to the sounds you make and respect your neighbor’s right to enjoy peace and quiet.

• Turn down the volume of your radio, Walkman, MP3 or iPod.

• Turn off the TV during lunch and dinner so you can have a quiet conversation.

• Write letters to authorities/politicians requesting that they address the noise issue.

• Do not use your car horn, except in cases of imminent danger.

• Ask the cinema manager to lower the films’ sound track.

• Avoid noisy sports and activities; replace them with quiet ones such as chess or visits to libraries and museums.

Citing a study conducted by Dr. Rina Reyes-Quintos of the PSO-HNS, Calaquian said shopping malls and amusement parks were emitting noise levels ranging from 80 to 90 decibels.

Orchestra and band members are exposed to a noise level of 110 decibels, and the beeping sounds of hospital machines and monitors have been found to affect fetuses and newborns, he said.

Traffic enforcers deployed on Edsa and commuters and motorists plying the capital’s major arteries are daily subjected to a noise level of about 100 decibels generated by the interminable honking and whirring of cars, Calaquian said.

Even personal music listening devices such as iPods and MP3s have also become major causes of hearing loss, he said.

“We are not discouraging the use of these music devices. But we advise users to turn down the volume to half the maximum and cut listening time to 30 minutes,” Calaquian said.

A 2003 study led by Dr. Benjamin Vitasa of the University of the Philippines’ College of Public Health showed that seven out of 10 Filipino industrial workers were suffering from noise-induced hearing loss.

According to grim global figures made available by Panors, hearing impairment among 28 million people worldwide has been attributed to noise pollution.

There are no available data to determine the magnitude of the problem in the Philippines — a clear indicator, Calaquian lamented, that noise as a great hazard to health has yet to be acknowledged in the country.

“Our politicians have yet to be (made) aware…. The problem is not given much attention because noise is intangible,” he said, noting the lack of laws regulating noise pollution.

Presidential Decree No. 1152, or the Philippine Environmental Code, was issued during the Marcos regime, but it merely set the standards on noise-producing equipment and was silent on implementing rules and penalties for violators.

The Anti-Noise Pollution Act of 2004 filed by Iloilo Representative Judy Syjuco has been pending in Congress all this time, Calaquian said.

He said a measure providing for aviation noise management and reduction in residential areas was also still pending before the Senate committee on public services
(http://services.inquirer.net/express/08/04/16/html_output/xmlhtml/20080415-130601-xml.html)

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