San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Health matters

Ombudsman's Office urges health officials to curb noise pollution

Costa Rica’s Ombudsman’s Office on Wednesday sent the Health Ministry an official request to improve supervision of all businesses and locales where noise levels disrupt the public’s peace and tranquility.

“We are concerned about the effects on people of exposure to loud noises for extended periods,” Ombudswoman Monserrat Solano Carboni said. She noted that her office currently has over 800 complaints regarding noise pollution, most of them filed against bars, restaurants, gyms and car repair shops, among others.

Solano said noise pollution is one of the main problems that communities across the country currently face, and that it constitutes one of the main threats to people’s quality of life.

“It also affects work efficiency and increases stress,” she said.

The Ombudsman’s Office reported that during inspections to investigate some of the claims it was concluded that the Health Ministry lacks the appropriate equipment to perform accurate noise measurements as well as sufficient and qualified personnel to work required hours, mostly at night.

In a public statement the office stated that staff problems at the ministry not only are delaying inspections, but also are affecting times to deliver notices or conduct closures of recidivist businesses.

Solano asked the ministry to amend public health laws to include a detailed description of all parameters needed to evaluate noise levels, as well as provisions for cases when intense and constant low-frequency noise affects people, according to parameters from the World Health Organization.

She also requested health officials take all necessary steps to allocate enough personnel and equipment to conduct noise measurements as required to meet the citizen demands.

Contact L. Arias at larias@ticotimes.net

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Jeremy Smith

Should add churches to that list.

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Ken Morris

More of a pet peeve than a commentary on noise pollution, but I don’t think businesses should be allowed to put speakers on the sidewalk and blare loud music in all directions.

It’s one thing for a bar or whatever to be loud inside, and for the noise to spillover outside, but quite another to intentionally direct the speakers outside of the business. We can ask and even require loud bars and the like to quiet it down, but at least the people inside the bar want it loud. The businesses that intentionally direct the noise outside when they don’t even want it inside themselves have no excuse for assaulting the public like that.

Come on, this is a torture technique used by the CIA, and shouldn’t be acceptable business practice.

I’m all for clamping down on noise pollution in general, but suggest that the most egregious and intentional instances be targeted first.

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