The Royal National Institute for the Deaf (RNID) has published a survey that showed that nearly seven out of ten people that listen to music through portable MP3 players are at risk of losing their hearing because of the high sound levels.
The great majority of those interviewed listened to music at more than 85 db which corresponds to the city traffic inside a car; more worrying is the fact that one person in the sample listened to music at 118 db for an hour a day.
That is 3db higher than at a loud rock concert and only 7db short of the physical pain barrier. Not surprisingly, the World Health Organisation says that users should not listen to music at this volume for more than 11 seconds daily (ed: better turn it down).
And nearly a quarter of the sample audience had their MP3 players reaching an incredible 100 decibels which is as loud as standing next to a motorcycle.
Just like sea waves battering a coast, sound waves produced by MP3 players batter the ear drums and can cause irreversible, permanent damage especially when used over a prolonged period. Ironically, as users' hearing worsen, they turn up the volume which makes the problem worse.
The RNID recommends the use of noise-cancelling or sound-isolating earphones (to prevent users from cranking up the volume to make up for the ambient sound) and urges users to take 5-minute breaks every hour or so.