EU Warns Music Fans About MP3 Players

    October 13, 2008

A new European Union study shows that 5-10 percent of personal music player listeners risk permanent hearing loss, if they listen to a personal music player for more than one hour per day each week at a high volume over a 5-year span.

A European safety standard is already in place that restricts the noise level of personal music players to 100 decibels, but there is more concern over hearing damage from excessive exposure to such sources.

The EU Scientific Committee warns that if users listen for only 5 hours per week at a high volume (exceeding 89 decibels) they risk permanent hearing loss after 5 years. This would effect between 2.5 million and 10 million people in the EU.

"I am concerned that so many young people, in particular, who are frequent users of personal music players and mobile phones at high acoustic levels, may be unknowingly damaging their hearing irrevocably," said Meglena Kuneva, EU Consumer Affairs Commissioner.

"The scientific findings indicate a clear risk and we need to react rapidly. Most importantly we need to raise consumer awareness and put this information in the public domain. We need also to look again at the controls in place, in the light of this scientific advice, to make sure they are fully effective and keep pace with new technology."

Overall, in the EU, it is estimated that about 50 to 100 million people may be listening to portable music players on a daily basis.  In the last four years unit sales range between 184-246 million for all personal music players and range between 124-165 million for MP3 players.