Study warns of MP3 hearing risk

October 14, 2008 // 1:27 p.m.

Tags: #eu #health #hearing #ipod #mp3 #tinnitus #volume

If you spend five hours or more a week listening to your MP3 player, you can expect to be asking people to speak up in the very near future according to a new study.

The New York Times reports that a study from the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks has identified that individuals who listen to personal music devices via headphones at a high volume for just five hours a week are exposing themselves to greater levels of noise than is permitted in a building site or factory floor. The study even states that the maximum volume setting can produce the same noise levels as an aeroplane taking off.

According to the report, “regularly listening to personal music players at high-volume settings when young often has no immediate effect on hearing but is likely to result in hearing loss later in life.

With the rising popularity of MP3 playback devices – be they iPods, mobile phones, or even hand-held games consoles – more people than ever are listening to music while on the go. The report estimates that around 10-20 percent of the European Union listen to such devices daily – and as many as ten percent of those at a level which could well put them at risk within five years.

In order to tackle what many officials are seeing as a future epidemic of deafness – with as many as five million people likely to suffer hearing damage as a result of listening to personal music devices at an unsafe volume within the next five years – the European consumer affairs commissioner Meglena Kuneva is to announce a proposal for a conference in Brussels to evaluate the results of the study and to investigate whether enforced limitations are required. A major topic of discussion is likely to be a 2004 study which recommended listening to personal music devices for no more than one cumulative hour per day and at a volume of no more than 60 percent of the device's maximum – less, if you're using in-ear 'bud' style headphones.

Do you believe that modern personal audio devices have a too-high maximum volume, or should the EU keep their noses out of your thrash metal collection? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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