More must be done to reduce noise from construction work

The National Environment Agency (NEA) said that companies can tap the $10 million Quieter Construction Fund to purchase or lease quieter construction equipment or noise-control equipment, or implement innovative noise-reduction solutions (Tools available to construction firms for noise control; May 2).

I am curious about the fund's take-up rate among small and medium-sized contractors. I doubt many are making use of the grant as jackhammers still seem to be their preferred choice.

People living in mature Housing Board estates are constantly exposed to jackhammer noise above 130 decibels from lift upgrading projects, neighbourhood renewal programmes, water pipe replacement works and flat renovation. This is a problem, especially since older HDB apartment blocks are not designed to limit noise transfer.

No wonder that electricity consumption is rising, as more people shut their windows and use air-conditioners to reduce the noise.

Since reducing electricity use can benefit the environment, it is time that NEA enforced more stringent noise limits for construction work near residential buildings. The existing 90 dBA is inadequate.

We also need to protect ourselves from excessive noise in order to enjoy a healthy life.Young children are especially vulnerable. The World Health Organisation has reported that noise pollution affects children's learning development.

It seems flat dwellers have no choice but to wait till the device being developed by Nanyang Technological University researchers to cut noise becomes widely available (Less noise, even with windows wide open; May 1).

But more efforts are needed to address the issue, such as stricter enforcement, better site management, more thoughtful designs, environmentally friendly practices and the wider use of quiet technologies.

Loong Chik Tong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 09, 2018, with the headline 'More must be done to reduce noise from construction work'. Subscribe