iPods and Hearing Loss
We all know that loud sounds can cause hearing loss. And the louder the
sound and the longer we're exposed, the greater the likelihood of heairng
loss and the more severe we can expect it to be. Now that everyone is
listening to iPods and other personal music players, I guess it's not
surprising that we're seeing an increase in the prevalence and severity of
hearing loss among those who listen the most.
Sept 2012 - Earphones 'potentially as dangerous as
noise from jet engines'
December 2011 - Most Parents and Teens Not Talking
About Noise-induced Hearing Loss
March 2011 - High-volume portable music players may
impair ability to clearly discriminate sounds
January 2008 - Safe Listening Campaign Sparks Teen
April 2007 - Personal Audio Devices Fuel Hearing Loss
October 2006 - Creative's New ZEN MP3 Players Set Volume
Limits and Provide Safety Guidelines from Experts
September 2006 - RNID calls for more prominent
warnings on MP3 player packaging
March 2006 - RNID welcomes move by Apple to set
volume cap for the iPod
More on this and related
Now hear this, if you still can: The European Union
said Monday it wants makers of popular digital music players to recommend
users turn the volume down to preserve their hearing. The EU's Consumer
Affairs Commissioner Meglena Kuneva said experts and industry will together
draft tougher standards to limit hearing loss. "If you want to enjoy your
favorite songs in 20 or 30 years time, turn the volume down," Kuneva said.
Action is necessary because there is cause for concern over health risks,
especially to younger people, she said. An EU scientific advisory body says
that between 2.5 million and 10 million Europeans could suffer hearing loss
from listening to MP3 players at unsafe volumes - over 89 decibels - for
more an hour daily for at least five years.
Marshalls Aerospace, which manufactures aircraft,
has emailed all 1,750 staff banning iPods, MP3 players and personal radios
at their Cambridge headquarters. The company fears that staff will claim
their hearing was damaged during work hours and sue the company for failing
to protect them on health and safety grounds. They also raised concerns over
safety as workers would not be able to hear fire alarms or moving machinery
on the factory floor. Experts say that listening to very loud music on an
MP3 player for prolonged period carries the risk of hearing loss and other
permanent damage. But Marshalls employees and safety experts criticised the
policy as "ridiculous".
So, what does this hearing expert recommend? Dr.
Fligor offered two excellent suggestions, "Limit the time you listen at high
volumes. Then, give your ears a rest - recovery time. If you give your ears
the chance, hearing returns to normal levels. The key is to take time out
and go unplugged." "I also recommend MP3 users upgrade to earphones that
block out background noise," Dr. Fligor stated. As his test results
demonstrate, MP3 listening levels are determined by background noise. So, if
you're riding the D train in New York, you'll turn up the volume to block
out the noise of the crowded subway car. On the other hand, you'll naturally
lower the volume during a quiet walk in the country. Upgrading to headphones
that reduce or block exterior, ambient sound (even really loud sounds like
the D train) enables MP3 users to lower the listening volume and extend
their listening time.
Teenagers seem to know that loud music can damage
their hearing, yet most see no reason to lower the volume on their iPods, a
small study suggests. In focus-group discussions with students at two high
schools in the Netherlands, researchers found that the teens were generally
aware that blasting an MP3 player could harm their hearing. Yet most said
they usually played their own device at maximum volume and had no plans to
change that. Like many teenagers, the students often denied their own
personal risk. Most knew the general hazards of loud music, but believed
they had a "low personal vulnerability" to hearing loss, the researchers
report in the Journal of Pediatrics. Given this, lead researcher Ineke Vogel
told Reuters Health in an email interview, "we strongly recommend parents to
inform their children and to discuss with their children the use of MP3
players and the potential long- term, irreversible consequences for hearing
Fears that rock fans will deafen themselves with a
highest volume setting equal to a chainsaw have led Apple to develop an
automatic volume control. It is the first time that the company has
explicitly expressed fears over the risk the device poses to hearing.
Experts believe that millions of young people are risking irreversible
hearing damage because of the craze for MP3 players. The iPod, like other
digital music players, can store enough music to play for several days and
has batteries that can last for more than 12 hours at a time. As a result,
its owners can keep their earphones in all day, risking cumulative damage to
their hearing. A new patent reveals that the next iPods and iPhones could
automatically calculate how long a person has been listening, and at what
volume, before gradually reducing the sound level.
Editor: I've been wondering when something like this
would appear. It's a set of earbuds that automatically limit the maximum
volume to a safe level.
With the proliferation of iPods today, you would
think that we would be faced with half-deaf senior citizens four decades
down the road. Most youth today do not give two hoots about the health of
their ears, turning the volume knob way up on their iPods and digital
audio players without a care in the world. If you are going to purchase an
iPod for your child or know somebody who is stuck to his/her digital audio
player like a leech, perhaps picking up the iHearSafe earbuds for them
would be one of the best things you could do on their behalf.
These child-safe earbuds have been board-certified by
audiologists and are equipped with patent pending technology that will
keep the volume below 80 decibels no matter how loud the original file is
or how high the volume has been turned up. This might not go down well
with teenagers who are already used to blasting their stereos in their
rooms with lung-busting songs from heavy metal groups, but it would be a
great way to get the younger ones who have not been exposed to loud music
yet started on the right path.
The iHearSafe earbuds are compatible with a wide
range of devices, from iPods to MP3 players, portable DVD players, TVs,
handheld consoles, and even cellphones. You can pick up a pair today for
$24.99. What? You canít hear what Iím saying? Then Iím afraid it is
too late to remedy the situation for you, my friend.