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February 16, 2009

EU: Millions of music listeners risk hearing loss

As many as 10 million Europeans are putting their hearing at risk when they listen to loud music on their MP3 players, according to an EU report. An EU commissioner wants to improve personal stereo safety.

EU: Millions of music listeners risk hearing loss

An estimated 2.5-10 million Europeans risk permanent hearing damage because of risky music listening habits, according to a new report issued by the European Union. They are in a high-risk group among 50-100 million Europeans who listen to music on their portable personal stereos.

An hour a day for five years

The risky behaviour involves listening regularly to loud music for long periods at a time. More than one hour a day of listening to music at high volume over a period of five years may result in permanent hearing damage, according to the authors of the report. The authors point out, that the resulting permanent hearing damage may not be immediately evident and may show up later in life.

The report was prepared by nine specialists associated with the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks. The European Commission asked this independent scientific committee to investigate the risks associated with listening to MP3 players.

Safer players

Meglena Kuneva, the European consumer affairs commissioner, recently hosted a conference on the subject in 2009 in Brussels. At the conference EU member states, industry representatives and consumer representatives discussed the report findings and how to make MP3 players safer. Technical solutions as well as regulations or new laws were debated.

MP3 listeners can improve listening safety on their own. Important first steps include turning down the volume and limiting the listening time.

Published on hear-it on February 16, 2009.

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