Portable music players may carry health warningEuropean Commission wants to limit MP3 decibels

28 September 2009

ipod shuffle

Future portable music players such as Apple’s iPod could come with a health warning, if proposals by the European Commission go ahead.

Apple, Sony, Creative and other MP3 manufacturers could be asked to display labels warning them that listening to loud music could damage their hearing. Alternatively, they could be asked to add on-screen warnings to their devices.

Noise level limit for MP3 players

Portable music players will also be required to adopt a default volume setting of about 80 decibels, the level deemed safe for 40 hours use a week.

While users will be able to override this the EC wants them to receive warnings from their device if they continue to exceed this level.

‘Current safety settings are not good enough to protect people,’ a source in the European Commission’s consumer affairs directorate told The Times.

MP3 players pose risk to hearing

The proposals follow the findings of an EU scientific committee last year that said that between 5% and 10 % of portable music users risked permanent hearing damage because they listened to too much music through headphones at or above 89 decibels, a level deemed safe for up to an hour a day.

They committee suggested that up to ten million people in the EU could be left with impaired hearing in 20 years' time.

The EC’s proposals will be discussed with industry representatives before being finalised. They will be given time to make adjustments to the manufacturing process for products coming on to the market in two years’ time.

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