MP3 players may damage hearing, warns report Excessive music noise may damage hearing

28 January 2009

Play music too loud on your MP3 player and you risk going deaf, according to a new European report.

Between 5% and 10% of digital music player listeners risk permanent hearing loss, claims the report by the EU Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR). 

Listeners are at risk if they play their personal music player for more than one hour every day at high volume settings for at least five years.

Hearing damage

EU consumer affairs commissioner Meglena Kuneva said: ‘I am concerned that so many young people, in particular, who are frequent users of personal music players and mobile phones at high acoustic levels, may be unknowingly damaging their hearing irrevocably’.

Which? has reviews of headphones, including noise-cancelling headphones.

Noise level

A current European safety standard restricts the noise level of personal music players to 100dB. However, the EU Scientific Committee believes that if people listen for more than one hour a day at high volume control settings (exceeding 89dB) they risk permanent hearing loss after five years. This is around 5% to 10% of listeners, which is up to 10 million people in the EU.

The committee advises that people check their MP3 players to see whether they can set a maximum volume, or to lower the volume manually.

The committee has published a layman's guide to its report on potential hearing damage.

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