By Michael Lentin
10. Karachi, Pakistan
At a population of over 15 million, Karachi is the most populous city of Pakistan and one of the top 10 places of noise pollution in the world. With 5 million cars on its roads each day, traffic is the dominant cause for noise pollution, according to one study. The chief culprits are mini buses, rickshaws and motorcycles, followed by buses, trucks, water tankers, and cars. The rickshaws, or two-wheeled passenger carts, are one of the most noticeable forms of noise, as well as the horns used in public buses.
9. Shanghai, China
Shanghai, China’s most crowded city, has a population of over 24 million people. The hustle and bustle of the city brings in around 100,000 noise complaints each year. The city’s citizens also set off thousands of firecrackers as a Chinese tradition to celebrate events such as weddings, new businesses opening, moving to a new house, and so on. The city has been recently trying to crack down on noise pollution, however, with a law stating that loud renovations aren’t allowed between the hours of 6:00 pm and 8:00 am on Holidays.
8. Buenos Aires, Argentina
The capital of Argentina is one of the top places where noise pollution is found. As the second largest city in South America, Buenos Aires is the center of both agricultural exports and metalworking for motor vehicle production. While these are great for their economy, the increase in construction, cars and people has given them the gold medal for the noisiest city in all of Latin America. Since it’s such a hot climate, many are forced to leave their Windows open, leaving little protection from the noises outside.
7. New York City, United States
New York City is by far the most populous city in all of North America, at an estimated population of over 8.4 million people in 2013. The city is projected to have 55.8 million tourists in 2014, bringing in almost 153,000 extra people per day. In addition to the people, the constant yellow taxis, street construction, car alarms, nightclubs, subways and planes are enough to give any resident a constant headache. Mayor Bloomburg has even begun requiring police to set up checkpoints with handheld noise meters and to issue fines to those who violate noise policies.
6. Madrid, Spain
Madrid is the capital of Spain, and while it may seem small in comparison at around 6.5 million people, they make it for it in noise. Madrid is known for its lively nightlife (the average adult’s bedtime is around midnight), and one of the biggest culprits of noise are its roaring bars and clubs, which usually don’t close until past 2:00 AM, leading to a government crackdown of making bars close earlier an attempt to reduce this nighttime noise.
5. Tokyo, Japan
The prefecture of metropolitan Tokyo is part of the world’s most populous area with around 35 million people. While Tokyo is known for being one of the leaders in cutting back on greenhouse gas emissions, they still encounter multiple problems when it comes to noise pollution. The bulk of the noise comes from construction work, followed by public loudspeaker messages, factories, commercial activities, and domestic life. Unlike many other cities, transportation makes up less than 10% of the noise pollution.
4. Delhi, India
As the political capital of India, Delhi is home to over 18 million people, and this number is expected to rise by 40% by the year 2020. The level of noise produced in the city has been called uncivilized, dangerous and traumatic, and has even lead to hearing loss in citizens 15 years sooner than average. In a recent study, not a single area of Delhi passed the the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)’s standards of noise control. The traffic noise has even affected those inside high-rise buildings, not just those outside on the streets. While many officials are trying to fix the problem, the smog and air pollution are so bad that the noise pollution often gets overlooked, reaching up to 85 decibels.
3. Cairo, Egypt
At a 2013 population of 9.1 million people, Cairo claims the title as the largest city in both the Middle East and Africa. The city’s known for being alive 24 hours a day, and its noise pollution has become so intense that it’s even contributed to some citizens’ deaths through “an accumulation of stress hormones, inflammation and changes in body chemistry that eventually lead to problems such as impaired blood circulation and heart attacks” in some people, says one article. The average noise level at 7:30 am is 90 decibels, where the EPA claims an acceptable level to be at 35-55 decibels.
2. Kolkata, India
Formerly known as Calcutta, this capital city of the Indian state West Bengal has a population of around 4.5 million people and is the center of India’s jute (plant fibers that can be woven into ropes and bags) processing industry. This, combined with the large factories, make for a very noisy environment. The fact that the National Green Tribunal just relaxed the rules for shooting firecrackers, which is also a major noise contribution (the city reaches over 100 decibels in festive seasons); the rules will be re-considered when a new noise study is conducted in the city, which is projected to occur this year. It may make no difference, however, due to the fact that police rarely take any action on firecrackers over the permitted decibels.
1. Mumbai, India
Also known as Bombay, Mumbai is the 5th most populous city in the world with almost 13 million people. Known as the entertainment, commercial fashion and financial capital of India, Mumbai’s severe city traffic and overpopulation can lead to noise of over 100 decibels, and it has been declared the noisiest city in the world in previous studies. The worst offenders are the ever-continuing construction, loudspeakers, firecrackers, festivals, honking, rickshaws and taxis.
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