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6 out of 10 young people risk permanent hearing loss

Parents urged to buy safer headphones for their children

Up to 60% of young people in Ireland are listening to music at dangerously loud levels according to preliminary findings from a national project being undertaken by DeafHear.ie

Keep the Sound is a project, currently being rolled out in schools around the country, to measure sound levels used by teenagers on their personal music devices (MP3s, mobile phones etc.). Early returns from the first group of schools visited indicate that six out of every ten students tested are using their devices at levels likely to cause long–term damage to their hearing.

According to Brendan Lennon, DeafHear’s Head of Information, “it is perfectly safe to listen to music on headphones at volumes up to 85dB. With each additional decibel you should be limiting the length of time you listen on the device. For instance, at 91dB anything more than two hours a day will cause permanent damage.”

The initial findings from the current survey have found that 60% of those tested were listening at volumes in excess of 91dB with one in four playing their devices at extremely dangerous levels – over 100dB! At this level, exposure of more than 15 minutes per day will cause permanent and irreparable hearing damage.

Research has shown that those using in-ear ear buds are up to four times more likely to damage their hearing as those using ‘over ear’ headphones.

DeafHear are releasing these preliminary findings in the hope of influencing parents considering buying music players for their children in the lead up to Christmas. “We want to encourage parents, and Santa, who may be giving gifts of music players this Christmas to protect the hearing of children and young people,” said Brendan Lennon. “The advice is simple – make sure that your child has a set of headphones, not earphones! This is the most effective step to protect your child’s hearing.

“There is a wide range of headphones available on the market, with a wide variety of prices. If you can afford it, it is worth looking at headphones with noise cancelling features, which offer additional protection,” he said.

- ENDS -

NOTES FOR EDITORS:

  • Research has shown that teenagers and young adults are damaging their hearing by listening to music at dangerous levels. Studies have found that up to 20% of young people in the US, France and Holland have symptoms of hearing loss.

  • Some research has shown that up to 75% of parents are unaware of the risks associated with listening to loud music.

  • There is an average difference in listening levels of over 6dB between those who use earphones and those who use headphones headphones.
    This means that people using earphones are listening to music at intensities of more than four times that of those using headphones.

DeafHear is a national charity providing a range of specialist support services to Deaf and Hard of Hearing people and their families. DeafHear campaigns and advocates for improved access to public services and society in general for all Deaf and Hard of Hearing people. It is engaged in research investigating the impact of deafness on people’s lives and on developing strategies to reduce the levels of hearing loss in the population. Over 30,000 people avail of DeafHear services every year, and one in six people have some level of hearing loss.

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