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Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Scientists Warn of Health Risks From Exposure to Noise From Personal Music Players


Listening to personal music pl

The scientific opinion shows that 5-10% of personal music player listeners risk permanent hearing loss, if they listen to a personal music player for more than one hour per day each week at high volume settings for at least 5 years. The European Commission had asked the independent scientific committee to examine this issue, given the widespread use of personal music players and the surge in the number of young people exposed to such noise. Scientists confirm that there is cause for concern and the European Commission will now examine with Member States and stakeholders, possible measures that could be taken to better protect children and adolescents from exposure to noise from personal music players and other similar devices.

A European safety standard already exists restricting the noise level of personal music players to 100 dB, but there is increased concern over hearing damage from excessive exposure to such sources. Such damage can be prevented to a large extent by measures such as reducing the noise exposure levels and duration. The EU Scientific Committee opinion highlights that users of personal music players - if they listen for only 5 hours per week at high volume control settings (exceeding 89 decibels) would exceed the current limits in place for noise allowed in the workplace. Users listening for longer periods risk permanent hearing loss after 5 years. This approximates to 5-10% of the listeners, which may be between 2.5 and 10 million people in the EU.

The European Commission asked for the scientific study, because of increasing concerns over threats to hearing, particularly for adolescents and children from leisure activities such as the use of personal music players. Based on this scientific evidence, the Commission is organising a conference in early 2009 in Brussels to evaluate the findings of the Scientific Committee with Member States, industry, consumers and other stakeholders and to discuss the way forward. The seminar will address precautions that users can take, as well as technical solutions to minimise hearing damage and the need for further regulations or revisions of existing safety standards to protect consumers.

"Personal music player users can already take certain very practical precautions, such as checking their device to see if a maximum volume can be set so as to keep the volume lower, or they can lower the volume manually, and they can take care not to use the personal music player for prolonged periods in the interest of their hearing," the scientists said.

The text of the opinion can be found at: http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_risk/committees/04_scenihr/docs/scenihr_o_018.pdf .


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