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The World Health Organization suggests that healthy noise levels should not surpass 55 decibels during the day and 40 at night. Going beyond these threshold values can pose a serious health risk to those in the near vicinity of the noise. This article examines the noise levels in metropolitans around the world.

Mumbai (Bombay), India

An article in the Mumbai Mirror describes Mumbai as “unfit for living, at least on the cacophony front.”

Traffic Infra Tech magazine suggests that the three main contributors to noise pollution are construction projects, firecrackers and loudspeakers during festivals, and indiscriminate honking.

And the worst honking offenders? Auto rickshaw and taxi drivers.

Kolkata, India

This honk-happy city, according to The Telegraph, Calcutta, has honked its way to the top of the decibel charts. A survey by the West Bengal Pollution Control Board reveals that one of the city’s busiest crossings averages 18,857 honks in 24 hours, or one honk every five seconds.

During the daytime, the average is one honk every three seconds.

Cairo, Egypt

Noise pollution has reached alarming levels in this 24-hour metropolis and has led to hearing problems, irritability, and even death.

According to a study by the Egyptian National Research Centre, average noise levels are at 90 dB and never drop below 70 dB. This can be compared to spending all day inside a factory.

New York City. Photo by Terabass.

New York City, United States

The “city that never sleeps” is the most populous city in the US and noise is consistently the number one quality of life issue.

New York authorities received more than 40,000 noise complaints in 2012, ranging from garbage trucks and police sirens to “lawn-care equipment” and “other animals”.

Delhi, India

The level of noise produced has been called dangerous and traumatic leading to hearing loss in citizens 15 years earlier than expected. A recent study showed that not a single area of Delhi passed the Central Pollution Control Board’s standards of noise control.

Tokyo, Japan

In this town of 35 million people, noise pollution caused by public loudspeaker messages, construction work, and transport has forced many of its citizens to wear earplugs as they go about their daily lives.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

An increase in construction, cars, and people make this city the noisiest in the region. Buses hurtle along cobbled streets and trains run through the city. The heat and humidity also force many residents to leave their windows open or turn on the incessantly whirring air-conditioners.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong

Shanghai, China

This busy city with a population of over 24 million results in 100,000 noise complaints each year.

So-called social life noise (general street noise) is the most annoying form of noise and accounts for about half of the complaints. This category includes noise from speakers outside stores, pets and barking dogs, public dancing, outdoor karaoke and music, tea shops, and sports fans.

Karachi, Pakistan

With five million vehicles on the road, it’s no wonder that traffic is the main cause of noise pollution in Karachi. A study conducted in Karachi reports that about 83% of street policemen, 33% of rickshaw drivers, and 57% of shopkeepers in busy shopping areas had noise-induced hearing loss.

The article is based on publicly available information

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