Time to enforce noise guidelines

Whether it’s all-night construction, screaming jet skis, revving cars or neighbours’ raucous parties, many residents of our larger cities are able to recount horror stories about noise. With Ramadan and its disrupted sleep schedules about a week away and with international research showing insufficient sleep to be an increasing problem in modern life, this is an issue that needs to be addressed.

Some degree of noise is inevitable in urban life, and particularly with the relentless growth of our cities requiring the construction of residential and commercial buildings. But there also has to be a limit when the clamour of everyday life becomes too much. As our report yesterday details, around one in five patients at a Dubai medical centre specialising in sleep disorders cited noise pollution as a cause.

One major factor in the severity of the problem is how ephemeral the noise is. While parties can be disruptive, they are also relatively short-lived. Few would begrudge their neighbours one noisy late-night party a year, for example, but it would become an issue if they held one every night. This is why loud cars and construction noise tend to be singled out for attention.

Noise control is the responsibility of each emirate’s municipality. In Dubai, maximum construction noise depends on the kind of neighbourhood – ranging from residential areas with light traffic through to industrial zones – with a further distinction between day and night. The Federal Environment Agency recommends the maximum noise level at night in a quiet residential area to be 40 decibels, or the same level as normal conversation. By comparison, being in the same room as a vacuum cleaner is about 70db.

Anyone who has lived next to a building under construction will be able to attest to the noise levels often exceeding 40db. With rules already in place, the issue tends to be more one of insufficient enforcement. Residents have a reasonable expectation that their complaints will be acted on and taken seriously by the authorities.


Source: The National Opinion (UAE)