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Caution on loud sounds: No music to your ears

From the WHO | Updated on February 15, 2019

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Nearly 50 per cent of people between 12 and 35 years, or 1.1 billion young people, are at risk of hearing loss due to prolonged and excessive exposure to loud sounds, including music they listen to through personal audio devices.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) have issued a new international standard for the manufacture and use of these devices, which include smartphones and audio players, to make them safer for listening.

“Given that we have the technological know-how to prevent hearing loss, it should not be the case that so many young people continue to damage their hearing while listening to music,” Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said. “They must understand that once they lose their hearing, it won’t come back. This new WHO-ITU standard will do much to better safeguard these young consumers as they go about doing something they enjoy.”

Sound allowance function

Over 5 per cent of the world’s population have disabling hearing loss (including 34 million children), impacting their quality of life. The majority live in low- and middle-income countries. It is estimated that by 2050, over 900 million people, or 1 in every 10 people, will have disabling hearing loss. Hearing loss that is not addressed poses an annual global cost of $750 billion. Overall, it is suggested that half of all cases of hearing loss can be prevented through public health measures.

The WHO-ITU standard recommends that personal audio devices include “sound allowance” function or software that tracks the level and duration of the user’s exposure to sound as a percentage used of a reference exposure. Personalised profiles to inform a user if they have been listening within safe limits, a limiting option, etc, have been recommended. WHO recommends that governments and manufacturers adopt these voluntary standards.

Source: WHO

Published on February 15, 2019

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