Page last updated at 15:57 GMT, Monday, 28 September 2009 16:57 UK

Music player noise limit planned

Headphones
Up to 100 million people use portable music devices every day in the EU

Train and bus passengers keen not to share the beat of fellow travellers' portable music devices might be happier to hear about a new plan from the EU.

A maximum noise default setting will be set on new portable music players, the European Commission has suggested.

But the standard decibel setting could be overridden by music fans still keen to turn up the volume.

The proposal came after research claimed that one in 10 users could suffer permanent hearing loss.

Scientists said those who listened at high volume for more than one hour per day over five years risked permanent harm. Between 50 million and 100 million people may be listening to portable music players on a daily basis, they found.

Levels

Existing EU standards currently prescribe no maximum sound limit nor require any specific volume labelling on devices.

The evidence is that particularly young people... have no idea they can be putting their hearing at risk
Meglena Kuneva, EU Commissioner

The new proposals suggest that a default volume is set on all personal music players and mobile phones with a music playing function manufactured in the future. The proposals could take some months before becoming standard practice and would be voluntary among manufacturers.

The Commission said that at 80 decibels, exposure should be limited to 40 hours a week. At 89 decibels, exposure should not exceed five hours a week.

"It is easy to push up the sound levels on your mp3 player to damagingly loud levels, especially on busy streets or public transport," said EU Consumer Affairs Commissioner Meglena Kuneva.

"The evidence is that particularly young people - who are listening to music at high volumes sometimes for hours each week - have no idea they can be putting their hearing at risk. It can take years for the hearing damage to show, and then it is simply too late.

"These standards make small technical changes to players so that by default, normal use is safe. If consumers chose to override the default settings they can, but there will be clear warnings so they know the risks they are taking."



Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Giving up my iPod for a Walkman
29 Jun 09 |  Magazine
Audio labels to help blind people
21 Sep 09 |  Technology
What happens in a product testing lab?
06 Sep 09 |  Business

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2013 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific