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Friday 22nd June 2018

EU noise limits for MP3 players

15th December 2009

The European Commission wants volume restrictions to be placed upon portable music players.


The restriction aims to limit rising rates of preventable hearing loss, following a report published last year.

Stephen Russell of the European consumer lobby ANEC said that there are up to 10 million Europeans who are at risk of losing their hearing permanently in the next five years.

The EU regulations will probably end up fixing the maximum volume output for such music players at 85 decibels, decreasing the output of current models of by up to 35 decibels.

The European Commission believes that modern music players, which utilise high-compression digital formats, are more dangerous to people's hearing than other types of portable music players.

Robin Yeoh, an audiology consultant at the Epsom and St Helier NHS Trust, said that the permanent damage people can suffer as a result of using portable music players is of a level that would have come only from industrial noise in other time periods.

DigitalEurope spokesman Tony Graziano said that the solution to the problem of preventable hearing loss must lie in a balance between safety and enjoyment, and that 85 decibels would not be appropriate for everyday use.

The European Commission’s consumer affairs directorate said that there would be default volume settings allowing unwitting people to protect themselves, as well as the option to override the new limits and reset them to 100 decibels.

Russel said that some of the highest-output units could be seen as creating illegal levels of noise exposure, from the perspective of existing health and safety legislation for workers.

Conservative MEP Martin Callanan said that young people have always listened to their music loudly, and that legislators should allow them to have personal responsibility and the freedom to choose whether or not they get hearing loss.


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