The Louder The Noise, The Faster It Damages The Ear - WHO

Headphones and ear buds have become a standard part of travel for most people, but according to a new report from the World Health Organisation (WHO), most are probably damaging their ears.

With the popularization of technology, devices such as music players are often listened to at unsafe volumes and for prolonged periods of time. In middle- and high-income countries, nearly 50% of teens and young adults are exposed to unsafe levels of sound from such devices.

From 1990 to 2005, the number of people listening to music through headphones increased by 75 percent. WHO identifies eighty-five decibels as the highest safe exposure level up to a maximum of eight hours.

"What we're trying to do is raise awareness of an issue that is not talked about enough, but has the potential to do a lot of damage that can be easily prevented" said Dr Etienne Krug, the WHO's director for injury prevention.

The full report argued: "While it is important to keep the volume down, limiting the use of personal audio devices to less than one hour a day would do much to reduce noise exposure."

Dr Krug said that a good ambition aim: "That's a rough recommendation, it is not by the minute, to give an idea to those spending 10 hours a day listening to an mp3-player.

"But even an hour can be too much if the volume is too loud."

The louder the noise (measured in decibels), the faster it damages the ear.
The WHO's safe listening times are:
  • 85 dB - the level of noise inside a car - eight hours
  • 90 dB - lawn mower - two hours 30 minutes
  • 95 dB - an average motorcycle - 47 minutes
  • 100 dB - car horn or underground train - 15 minutes
  • 105 dB - mp3 player at maximum volume - four minutes
  • 115 dB - loud rock concert - 28 seconds
  • 120 dB - vuvuzela or sirens - nine seconds
The World Health Organization recommends keeping the volume to 60% of the maximum as a good rule of thumb.
For people trying to drown out the noise of flying or train journeys, it says noise-cancelling headphones allow music to be heard clearly at a lower volume.

And the WHO adds that ear plugs should be worn at noisy venues and advises taking "listening breaks" and standing far away from speakers at gigs.

Source: BBC

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