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Charity warns about hearing loss from MP3 players

Written by James Delahunty (Google+) @ 09 Sep 2007 19:42 User comments (10)

Charity warns about hearing loss from MP3 players A new small study carried out by the Royal National Institute for Deaf People will ignite the debate over the audio volumes that MP3 players can output and what exactly manufacturers' obligations are. The charity warned that over two thirds of young people who use MP3 players are currently facing premature hearing damage as a direct result of the volume they listen to the players at.
The group has accused manufacturers of slacking when it comes to adequately warning customers about hearing damage. RNID urges MP3 player fans to invest in in-ear filters for headphones which cancel out background noise and reduce the need for higher volumes. Out of 110 MP3 users tested in Brighton, Manchester and Birmingham, 72 listened to music at a volume over 85 decibels.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says that listening to music at that volume for more than an hour at time can damage hearing ability. The study found that half the young people questioned listened for more than an hour a day with a quarter listening for more than 21 hours per week. About 58% were completely unaware of the hearing loss risks and 79% had never seen warnings about noise levels on packaging of MP3 players.

Do manufacturers really care about this issue? An RNID spokeswoman said that last September the group contacted 55 manufacturers about adding warning labels to packaging and heard back from just two of them. "MP3 manufacturers have a responsibility to make their customers aware of the dangers by printing clear warnings on packaging and linking volume controls to decibel levels," Brian Lamb, acting chief executive of RNID, said.

"It's easy to crank up the sound levels on your MP3 player to damagingly loud levels, especially on busy streets or public transport. But if people can hear the music from your headphones from just a meter away, you're putting your hearing at risk."

BBC News

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10 user comments

19.9.2007 20:13

This sounds like common sense to me. Unfortunately the earphones that ship with the iPod are not very good at canceling out any background noise and produce a lot of noise, in my opinion, even when the iPod's volume is only middle level.

Luckily I got myself a pair of earbuds that are better at blocking out outside noises and enable me to hear almost perfectly at only 1/6th or less of the volume the iPod is capable of.

One thing that surprised me, from what I remember Apple has not put a warning on its packaging at all about unsafe volume levels. They may have recently but if they didn't early on I am surprised no one sued them, only because of how "sue happy" it seems americans are.


29.9.2007 21:42

Yeah, those iPod earbuds are pretty sloppy. You'd think they could've built some isolation into them. You can set a maximum volume level on the 2nd Gen Nano. I don't know about the rest. Their sole warning that I could see is "Please Listen Responsibly."

As for the personal responsibility of self-inflicted hearing loss:
When you lose your hearing in an accident or are born deaf, I'm all for helping out. If a defective product causes your hearing loss, okay, maybe you should sue, IF you were using common sense when it happened. But when some snot-nosed teenager does it to himself, then expects a handout from the taxpayer, he has nobody but himself to blame. I don't want my insurance premiums or my tax dollars going to any of these botched humans who crank their "tunes" so loud that I can hear it past their earbuds, or who boom their cheap stereos out their car windows. They can damage their hearing if they want, but they shouldn't expect to live on the dole the rest of their lives.

310.9.2007 2:59

I don't like earbuds because they play some sounds too loud no matter how low the volume is. I like the earphones that sit on top of the ear. I've always kept the volume low, loud noises drives me nuts.
Unfortionatly, a relentless series of serious ear infections in adulthood left me with nerve damage in the ears. I can hear, yet I sometimes have trouble making out what people say. I also can't sort out sounds, like someone talking vs a fan.

410.9.2007 3:14

I find this a real problem with kids. I can hear their mp3 player's so well that I could sing along the song with them if I wanted to. Recently I found great noise canceling headphones from Staples for just $13 and I'm happy with it. Now I don't have to put my volume up to block others out.

510.9.2007 11:51

If you think iPods are loud, you should hear iPods... with RockBox!

I always thought they were too loud, so I put a lock on the volume, and then I got the in-ear buds from Apple off of eBay(they're real) and just switched the flanges or whatever with a double from my old noise-canceling earbuds, which just randomly broke. Now it's perfect.

610.9.2007 16:44

for what apple charge for a ipod you would think you would get a decent pair of earphones.not that 10.00 dollar crap that comes with it.

711.9.2007 8:54

It is funny that there needs to be a warning on an Ipod. If there wasn't so much protecting people from themselves there would be less idiots burn their crotch with coffee or put fingers in Wendy's chili. There are so many frivolous lawsuits that those with legitimate claims have had their settlements capped to protect corporations.

811.9.2007 14:46

to effectivley control the effect of hearing loss governments should put a restrictions to how loud the output souynd is on these mobile media players.

911.9.2007 18:55

Originally posted by borhan9:
to effectivley control the effect of hearing loss governments should put a restrictions to how loud the output souynd is on these mobile media players.
and give the goverment more to control in your life.

1013.9.2007 14:09

If you are really interested in noise isolating headphones, take a look at some IEMs (In-ear Monitors) from these companies. They're great:

All these are high end IEMs, audiophile like sound and very, very good isolation.

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