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November 26, 2007

Noise to be turned down in German discos

If it is up to the Bavarian provincial government, music at full blast will be a plague of the past in German discos. The Bavarian lawmakers want the maximum noise levels to be limited by law.

The disco music is too loud, and the Bavarian Health Minister, Werner Schnappauf, is proposing to regulate the maximum noise levels of all discoteques in Germany. The objective is to counter the ever increasing number of hearing injuries among young Germans. According to current estimates, three in 10 young Germans suffer from hearing loss.

Schnappauf is proposing a top noise limit of 99 dB. The authorities are to monitor and enforce the noise regulations. Failure to comply will result in fines.

The Health Minister of Saxony, Helma Orosz, supports the proposal of her Bavarian colleague.

Voluntary restraints ineffective

Schnappauf made his proposal following a study based on noise level monitoring in 20 Bavarian discoteques. In 16 of them, noise levels were found to be higher than the proposed maximum noise levels of 99 dB. This was disappointing to the Bavarian authorities who previously relied on voluntary efforts to decrease the noise. Disc jockeys were encouraged to qualify for a license by taking classes to make them aware of the dangers associated with excessive noise. It was hoped that this would result in responsible DJs taking precautions in order to lower the risks.

Schnappauf also encouraged all discoteques and night clubs in Bavaria to install visible noise meters, require their DJs to be licensed, and keep noise levels below 100 dB.

Unfortunately, the voluntary scheme did not have the desired effects, leading the Health Minister to make his legislative proposal.

Noise levels monitored in the workplace

The European Union has issued a directive establishing a daily noise exposure limit value of 87 dB. In workplaces with noise levels above 87 dB the directive compels the companies to take measures to lower the noise.

Source: Press release from the Bavarian State Ministry of the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Protection

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