An Open Letter of Complaint to the Mayor of Kumasi: Noise Pollution

– KMA Noise Control Unit unwilling or unable to control noise pollution – CC: The Regional Minister, Ashanti Region

Dear Mr Mayor

speaker-horns1Please accept this open letter as the latest of countless formal complaints to the KMA Noise Control Unit by my family and I in regard noise pollution emanating from the “Victory Information Centre” at Emena.

Mr Mayor, my family and I implore you to take direct and immediate action to stop the noise pollution in Emena emanating from the “Victory Information Centre” and to stop all noise pollution in Kumasi.

Six months after making the first formal complaint to the KMA the noise from the “Victory Information Centre” consistently and daily measures in our home in the 60 and 70 decibels during periods when it should be no more than 55 decibels during the day and 48 decibels during the night out in the street near the Information Centre. The noise levels would therefore be much greater near the Information Centre than what is being measured in our home which is some distance from the Information Centre.

The noise is horrific, distressing and causing my family and I a great deal of stress and anxiety. It greatly impacts on our son’s study and we believe it is harming our health and wellbeing. It causes us to lose sleep and is destroying our family life and prayer time. The noise levels greatly exceed the permissible levels for both day and night. I am able to prove this beyond all doubt.

For approximately six months I have been making complaints to Mr Edmund Kombal of the KMA Noise Control Unit. For whatever reason/s I believe the KMA Noise Control Unit is either unwilling or unable to stop the noise pollution in Emena, and Kumasi generally.

Six months of complaining to Edmund about the noise pollution in Emena has only achieved the noise continuing each and every day for six, seven or more hours each day, every day of the year, except when there is no electricity. Mr Mayor that is almost one third of every day which would add up to being almost one third of the lives of my family and I during our stay in Kumasi.

When Edmund and his KMA Noise Control Unit team initially came to my house to measure the noise I discovered that the team had little idea how to measure noise when compared to accepted industry practice.

Noise Pollution is rampant in Kumasi. One only has to tour Kumasi to discover this. The World Health Organisation has stated that “Noise Can Kill”, the Ghana EPA has said that noise is a “Silent Killer”.

“ In Ghana, the Health Service reports that since 2008, hypertension continuous to be the third most common cause of morbidity and mortality in the Ashanti region with the Kumasi Metropolitan Area leading the pack of endemic areas”.

The European Heart Journal says: “Noise, defined as undesirable sound, is known to be a stress stimulus that can produce acute blood pressure (BP) elevation in animals and in humans in laboratory or occupational settings.“

“Blacks develop high blood pressure earlier in life — and with much higher blood pressure levels — than whites. Nearly 42% of black men and more than 45% of black women aged 20 and older have high blood pressure.”

“Statistics from Internal Medicine Specialists at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), show disturbing upsurge of cases of hypertension and diabetes in Kumasi and its environs. KATH has been seeing 120 new cases of hypertension and 30 cases of diabetes every week. Again, 25 per cent of deaths at the referral facility are attributed to the abnormally high blood pressure disease and its related infections.

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia says: “Elevated workplace or other noise can cause hearing impairment, hypertension, ischemic heart disease, annoyance, and sleep disturbance. Changes in the immune system and birth defects have been attributed to noise exposure”.

From the statements below it is unequivocally obvious that noise pollution is causing harm to human health; in the unborn (foetus), children and adults:

“Noise can kill” so says a report by the World Health Organization and the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre. “Noise has been shown to raise blood pressure and blood-borne concentrations of stress hormones and fatty materials even when people are asleep. These can accumulate over time to block blood vessels and trigger a heart attack”.

On the Government of Ghana Official Portal, Mrs Philomena Boakye Appiah, Brong-Ahafo Regional Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has reiterated the need for strict adherence to environmental regulations and guidelines on noise pollution for the well-being of the people. Mrs Appiah said, “research shows that noise pollution was a risky health hazard and a silent killer, which could induce hypertension and cause blindness. She said noise pollution causes irritability and indigestion and adversely affect the foetus of pregnant women”.

On another website The Regional Director disclosed “that noise pollution could cause deafness, blood pressure, indigestion, heartburn, ulcers, heart disease, mental illness, fatigue, damages in the nervous system, increased stress/ irritation, decrease in efficiency at work places, sleep interference, decreased academic performance and indirectly weakens the edifice of buildings and bridges”.

“Repeated exposure to noise during critical periods of development may affect a child’s acquisition of speech, language, and language-related skills, such as reading and listening. The inability to concentrate in a noisy environment can affect a child’s capacity to learn”.

“Prolonged exposure to loud noise alters how the brain processes speech, potentially increasing the difficulty in distinguishing speech sounds, according to neuroscientists. Exposure to intensely loud sounds leads to permanent damage of the hair cells, which act as sound receivers in the ear. Once damaged, the hair cells do not grow back, leading to noise-induced hearing loss”.

“The most dramatic effects are in heart disease, because exposure to noise can kill people”. europe.html#.VKol6tKUfVD

“Changes in the immune system and birth defects have been attributed to noise exposure”.

“Effects of noise in pre-school and school aged children include cognitive tasks are impaired, like reading, long term memory, attention and motivation”.

“Noise can pose a serious threat to a child’s physical and psychological health, including learning and behaviour”.

“Sleep Deprivation of just 30 minutes of daily sleep debt raises weight and diabetes risk”.

“PROLONGED SLEEP DEPRIVATION CONFIRMED AS A METHOD OF TORTURE. The UN Committee Against Torture (UN CAT) has explicitly identified prolonged sleep deprivation as a method of torture. Sleep deprivation can cause impaired memory and cognitive functioning, decreased short term memory, speech impairment, hallucinations, psychosis, lowered immunity, headaches, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, stress, anxiety and depression.”

“The Physicians for Human Rights also consider sleep deprivation as well as sensory bombardment with noise to be methods of torture, and list the clinical evidence of the harm to physical and mental health, and the legal precedents to support this opinion in their document “Leave No Marks”.

Please Mr Mayor, take the action that the KMA Noise Control Unit is either unwilling or unable to take.

Both Edmund Kombal, Manager KMA Noise Control Unit and Don Awantungo, KMA Metro Environmental Health Officer have my telephone number.

Yours sincerely

Peter Cunningham

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