New study on earbud risk to hearing

Further evidence this week that earbud users who like the volume turned up high are seriously at risk of hurting their ears. Parents, get your kids to listen to this as well as music! A European study found that people who listened to music on MP3 players "for five hours a week at high-volume settings exposed themselves to more noise than permitted in the noisiest factory or work place," the New York Times reports. The study – by a team of nine specialists on the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks – "threatens permanent hearing loss for as many as 10 million Europeans." The Times adds that in the EU's 27 countries "an estimated 50 million to 100 million people out of about 500 million may be listening to portable music players daily." I'm sure the percentage isn't much higher than that in the United States. The study "also warns that young people do not realize the damage until years later." The maximum safe decibel level is 89, which – on iPods – is about the 60% volume level (see "iPods & ears" and "New earbud risk study"). The iPod manual includes a warning about hearing-loss risk.

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