World Health Organization warns against permanent hearing loss due to excessive use of audio devices
Few people place a daily time limit on their music listening habits, but the World Health Organization warns that they should start doing just that. In fact, the prescribed safe length of time is one hour a day. If you’re a music junkie or an aspiring producer, it would probably be easier to limit your water consumption to one glass per day. According to data collected from various middle and high-income countries, however, almost 50 percent of people between the ages of 12 and 35 listen to cellphones or personal audio devices at “unsafe volumes.” The data also suggests that around 40 percent of young people are exposed to damaging sound levels at sporting events and nightclubs.
“As the intensity of sound increases, the permissible time for safe exposure reduces,” said Dr. Shelly Chadha, a WHO expert on hearing loss.
According to an article published BigStory.AP.org, volumes of 85 decibels are fine for a period of up to eight hours. That intensity, however, is the equivalent of being stuck in traffic and nowhere near the intensity you’d experience at a music festival or nightclub. For every three decibels added to that safe number, you should cut the exposure time in half.
“Teenagers and young people can better protect their hearing by keeping the volume down on personal audio devices, wearing earplugs when visiting noisy venues, and using carefully fitted, and, if possible, canceling earphones or headphones,” said WHO, and urged listeners to take brief breaks in between listening sessions, in addition to limiting their daily use of personal audio devices to under sixty minutes.
This ‘turn-it-down or turn-it-off’ mentality is hard for many young people to swallow; in today’s day and age, people have become accustomed to listening to sounds louder than would be recommended, and a solid bassline just doesn’t sound the same unless you can feel it rumble in your throat.
Chadha gave this sobering warning in the BigStory article, though: someone who turns up the volume on his personal music player to 95 decibels for a 30-minute subway commute “is going to get irreversibly damaged (hearing) in a couple of years’ time.”
It was followed by a rather ominous statistic from WHO: about 360 million people worldwide are currently living with disabling hearing loss. Among the primary factors is exposure to noise.