12 March 2009

Video arcades causing hearing loss and tinnitus

Noise levels found to be so high that young guests risk hearing loss in just 30 seconds.

A study conducted by University of Maine graduate students recorded noise levels in four video arcades. The study found noise levels so extreme that visitors in the arcades risked temporary hearing loss in just 30 seconds of exposure. Extended or frequent exposure at such levels may result in permanent hearing loss or tinnitus.

The graduate researchers examined local children ages 11 to 15 years and their use of video arcades. They found that 77 percent of the children spent an average of one hour a week in video arcades.

Noisy attractions

In one of the arcades noise levels peaked at 114 dB, with average sound levels of 93 dB. In another the noise levels varied from 69 dB to 119 dB. In the other two arcades noise levels were more moderate and acceptable.

A continous noise level of 85 dB will result in hearing damage. At 115 dB, the noise levels are eight times higher and hearing damage may occur in 30 seconds.

The noisiest video arcade attractions were found to be action games involving racing, gunfire and fighting. Some of the loudest sound effects were amplified nonstop, even if no one was playing.

Not only the video arcade customers put their hearing at risk in this environment. Arcade employees are even more at risk, unless they use hearing protection. They are exposed to the high noise levels repeatedly and for longer periods of time.

Source: The University of Maine - News

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