Features  |  Health  

‘Over 10% of Lagos residents have mild to total deafness’

By Wole Oyebade |   12 May 2016   |   1:26 am  

At least one in every 10 Lagos residents now has ear impairment, no thanks to the endemic noise pollution that has almost become a second nature of the mega city.

*LASEPA rallies religious leaders, night clubs others to ‘Noiseless Lagos’ campaign

At least one in every 10 Lagos residents now has ear impairment, no thanks to the endemic noise pollution that has almost become a second nature of the mega city.

The impairment that ranges from mild to chronic, affect all classes of the population, and now constitute over 50 per cent of patients that present at the Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) section of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja, Lagos.

ENT Surgeon at the state-own tertiary hospital (LASUTH), Dr. Olawale Olubi, made this disclosure at a one-day stakeholders forum and commissioning of noise/horn free Zone signage in Lagos, warning that the damage caused by the perennial noise pollution is far-reaching and already a burden on the state’s health system.

Olubi, who a Consultant ENT at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja, Lagos, said that about 2.3 million of the Lagos population (over 21 million) already have ear problem and cannot hear as much as they should.

He said while a fraction of the population are born with the defect and some became deaf due to bad trauma, drug abuse and old age, a larger fraction are those that develop the condition through consistent exposure to either domestic or industrial noise.

According to him, “In the Ear, Nose and Throat Section (of LASUTH) ear issues take more than 50 per cent of our ailments. Again, don’t forget that a lot of people have ear problems but don’t know where to go. A lot have already ended up in deaf school.

“About 10 per cent of the populace have some degrees of hearing loss. We found out that our ears are not as sharp as they should be because of the noise in our environment,” Olubi said.

The consultant explained that the unwanted and disturbing sounds (noise) are very injurious to the ear cells that are responsible for getting sounds, modulation and transmitting sounds to the brain.

“If these cells are damaged, they lead to permanent impairment of the ear and that is deafness. When this noise actually goes on for about eight hours in a day, for those working in the industry without protection and they work for some years, you can be sure that their ears are already damaged. A lot of workers have been dismissed without compensation because of hearing problem,” he said.

General Manager of the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA), Adebola Shabi, said that the State is noisy for reasons not unconnected with its growing population (put at 23 million and nine per cent annual growth rate), urbanisation, commercial, religious and domestic activities.

Shabi said that such activities become noise pollution when they exceed the approved set limit of 55 decibel in residential area during day-time or 45 at night; 65 decibel in mixed area at day-time or 55 at night; 90 decibel in industrial area at day-time or 80 decibel at night.

He said that the State government since 1996 had been unrelenting to curb excessive noise in markets, religious centres, industries, night clubs and so on, particularly in respect of growing health hazards of noise pollution.

According to him, “Noise pollution affects both health and behaviour, it could damage psychological health, alter brain chemistry, cause hypertension, high stress level, permanent hearing loss, insomnia (sleep disturbance), permanent damage to voice and loss of eye sight in extreme cases. In animals, noise can increase the risk of death through the alteration of predator and prey detection with the avoidance and interference of reproduction and navigation.

“Our environment is such that it has become difficult to avoid noise. By and large, lack of urban planning increases exposure to unwanted sounds. This why Lagos State government is inaugurating this maiden edition of noise summit to reduce or completely abate noise pollution in the state through the ‘Noiseless Lagos’ campaign,” Shabi side.

The Shabi-led agency received no fewer than 1,527 noise-related public petitions against religious centres, clubs and hotels in 2015, out of which over 100 of such centres where shut to enforce compliance.

Lagos State Commissioner for Home Affairs, Dr. Abdul-Lateef Abdulhakeem, stressed that the state government has no delight in shutting churches and mosques but they must comply with the rules that only allow public addressing system or bells (church) for call to prayers alone.

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