HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Akron Univ. School of Law

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Saturday, August 20, 2005

iPODs and Hearing Loss

Well, you knew that the fun could not last, it turns out that listening to iPODs or other MP3 players, particularly at the volumes at which many people listen, can cause hearing loss.  This BBC article details some of the latest findings,

The surge in sales of iPods and other portable music players in recent years could mean many more people will develop hearing loss, experts fear.

If the volume through headphones is too high, there is a real risk of permanent damage to hearing, they say.

Sydney's National Acoustic Laboratories found a quarter of personal music system users in a random sample listened to music at dangerous volumes.

The Royal National Institute for Deaf people urged awareness of the risks.

Millions now own MP3 players - Apple has sold more than 20 million iPods.

A recent study by the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID) found 39% of 18 to 24-year-olds listened to personal music players for at least an hour every day and 42% admitted they thought they had the volume too high.

The RNID regards 80 decibels as the level at which hearing is threatened - 20 less than a pneumatic drill.

Some MP3 players can reach 105 decibels. EU iPods have a sound limiter to comply with noise safety levels, however sometimes users hack through this in order to listen to it louder.

The RNID said it was possible that any rise in popularity of personal music players might lead to more cases of hearing loss in the future.

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