Selasa, 14 Oktober 2008

Portable Music Players and Hearing Loss

In Human Biology, 5th edition we warn that portable music players are capable of sound levels that could permanently damage one’s hearing (“Do Portable Music Players Endanger Your Hearing?” p. 293). A commission of the European Union apparently agrees. In an opinion made public yesterday, the EU Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) concluded that users of portable music players who listen at high volumes for more than an hour a day risk permanent hearing loss. Their best guess is that 5-10 percent of listeners, or up to 10 million people in the EU, fall into that category. They warn that although listening at high volumes may not seem to have an immediate effect, it still may lead to hearing loss later in life.

The European Commission is planning a conference for early 2009 to discuss the committee’s findings with industry, consumers, and governments, and to consider whether there is a need for tighter controls over portable music players. I would not be surprised to see new legislation emerge that limits the maximum sound volumes attainable with portable music players.

SCENICOR’s 80-page preliminary report, released in June for public comment, is available online.

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