A study done by the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia’s (UTM) Institute of Noise and Vibration shows that road traffic noise levels read almost 20 percent more than it did back in 2010. The study was conducted in several locations in Malaysia.
Professor Dr Mohd Salman Leong, director of the Institute of Noise and Vibration of UTM, told The Star that a study on the Cheras-Kajang Expressway in Klang Valley showed the average noise levels in the day has spiked 19 percent from 64 dBA in 2010 to 76.4 dBA in 2017.
Note: dBA is a measure of sound and stands for A-weighted decibels
Dr Salman described the difference as imagining a business office sound level but the peace is interrupted by a vacuum cleaner operating.
At night, the measurement on the Cheras-Kajang Expressway reads 73.2 dBA in 2017. This is a 15.4 dBA more than the reading of 57.8 dBA taken in 2010.
The professor attributed the surge in noise level to the increased traffic volume and vehicles travelling at higher speeds. He also added that several toll booths have since been abolished in 2012 further increasing the chance of travelling at higher speeds.
Another factor that could contribute to higher noise levels is the increased percentage of heavy vehicles on the road.
In another measurement exercise done in Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI) facing the LDP Highway also reads at least 15 dBA higher in the daytime at 70.6 dBA. Back in 2010, it read 65.7 dBA.
At night, the noise level in the area reads 67.4 dBA compared to 64.7 dBA back in 2010.
Although the road traffic noise has increased altogether to read around 70 dBA in the daytime, Dr Salman points out that it has yet to reach unhealthy levels.
“Acceptable environmental noise is dependent on land use and the community where the noise is generated.
“In an urban residential area, the internationally acceptable noise levels are 65dBA (the volume of laughter) during the daytime and 60dBA (the volume of normal conversation) at night,” he told The Star adding that noise levels need to be substantially higher to be deemed unhealthy.
For reference, the World Health Organisation’s guideline for Community Noise and the US Environmental Protection Agency recommends an outdoor ambient noise limit of 75 dBA for safe, long-term environmental noise exposure.