Limit the Use of Audio Devices to Protect Hearing, WHO Recommends

Limit the Use of Audio Devices to Protect Hearing, WHO Recommends


The World Health Organization has cautioned the people who use personal audio players and has suggested ways to prevent permanent hearing loss. It recommends that the use of personal audio players must be limited to one hour a day and the volume should be turned down. The U.N. agency indicated that the young people are particularly at risk. Data obtained from middle and high income countries shows that about half of all 12- to 35-year-olds regularly use their personal audio devices or cellphones at unsafe volumes. Around 40 percent of young people are also exposed to damaging levels of sound at nightclubs, bars and sporting events.

Dr. Shelly Chadha, a WHO expert commented “As the intensity of sound increases, the permissible time for safe exposure reduces.” She suggests that volumes of 85 decibels which is equivalent to being stuck in traffic can be endured safely up to eight hours. However, with every three additional decibels, the safe exposure time halves and thus volumes of 100 decibels can be endured safely for only 15 minutes.

WHO said “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, noise-cancelling earphones or headphones.” The agency suggests that it is good to take short listening breaks and avoid using personal audio devices daily for more than one hour.

Chadha emphasized that a number of people fail to realize how loud the volume on their device is. She revealed that an individual 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.” She also opines that the manufacturers should consider displaying the intensity level on devices.