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Diwali – as the name indicates is a festival of “a row of lights”. But sadly, high levels of noise are produced by crackers burst during this festival. Excessive noise, in addition to causing discomfort, leads to temporary hearing loss, and in extreme cases, leads to permanent hearing loss. It may be pertinent to note that India has about 10 million completely deaf and 40 million partially deaf persons. Excessive exposure to high levels of noise during festivities can lead to an increase in these numbers.
The effect of exposure to high levels of noise is more pronounced among pregnant women and infants. Studies have revealed that 1) exposure to excessive noise during pregnancy may result in high-frequency hearing loss in newborns, and may be associated with prematurity and intrauterine growth retardation, (2) exposure to noise may result in cochlear [inner ear] damage, and (3) exposure to noise and other environmental factors may disrupt the normal growth and development of premature infants. Even animals are not spared from the agony. Firecrackers not only harm the environment but also scare innocent birds and animals.
Govt. of India has enacted noise standards for fire-crackers vide G.S.R.682(E), dated 5th October, 1999, in an effort to control noise pollution due to fire crackers. According to this, the manufacture, sale or use of fire-crackers generating noise level exceeding 125 dB(AI) or 145 dB(C)pk at 4 meters distance from the point of bursting is prohibited.
In March 2001, the Central Pollution Control Board in association with National Physical Laboratory (NPL), Delhi initiated a study on measurement of noise levels of fire-crackers available in the market. The study indicated that 95% of the fire-crackers samples exceed the prescribed noise limits.

The Acoustical Society of India has been working to educate the general public on the causes and effects of high levels of man-made noise. The society conducts various programmes on a regular basis on the need for controlling noise pollution, and making our lives more peaceful and stress-free.
A few measures can be taken to make this Diwali more enjoyable:

Let us all join together, and celebrate a noise-less Diwali. Let us pledge to keep the noise levels lesser than allowable.

(Dr. V. Bhujanga Rao)
President, Acoustical Society of India
& Director, NSTL

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