The new standards stipulate that all personal music players sold in the EU after February 2013 should have a default set volume level of 85dB. Mobile phones which can play music through headphones are also affected by these recommended sound limitations.
However, consumers can also choose to override this limit and increase the volume level to a maximum of 100dB. If they do so, warnings about the risks of listening to music above safety levels must be repeated every 20 hours of listening time.
Millions putting their hearing at risk
In October 2008, a report conducted by the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) estimated that up to 10 million European citizens were putting their hearing at risk when listening to loud music on their MP3 players.
Based on this report and a request from the European Commission, these new technical safety standards - effective from February 2013 - were drawn up by the EU standardisation body, the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardisation (CENELEC).
EU standards not mandatory
The EU standards are voluntary. Yet, the Commission has expressed that EU standards usually become the new means of measure within the industry.