15 November 2005

Hearing alert raised against new cordless drills

A new type of cordless drill and screwdriver, known as impact drivers, are being hawked in the United States as the ideal holiday present for do-it-yourself handymen. But the enthusiasm for the powerful new power tools is tempered by a warning issued by Consumers' Union, the largest consumer organization in the United States. CU found that the new drills are extremely noisy and a threat to your hearing.

In tests of 10 different models of impact drivers, CU found that they averaged 104 dB at ear level under heavy load. This, according to Consumer Reports magazine, is far louder than standard cordless drills, as loud as chain saws, and well above the 85 dB at which CU recommends hearing protection. Yet, warnings about hearing protection are buried in the drills' owner manuals.

CU pointed out that just one minute of exposure to 110 dB of noise risks permanent hearing loss, according to the National Institutes of Health, and that the NIH recommends no more than 15 minutes of unprotected exposure to 100 dB of noise.

Concluded CU: “Until quieter models arrive, we believe manufacturers should put impact driver noise warnings on the box and product, and include a set of earplugs.”

Source: Consumer Reports, December 2005

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