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Tuesday, January 19, 1999 Published at 17:40 GMT


Deafness risk from personal stereos

Personal stereos could cause premature deafness

Safety experts have warned that prolonged listening to personal stereos could damage people's hearing and may leave them prematurely deaf.

The BBC's Denise Mahoney: Personal stereos may be required to carry a health warning
The British Standards Institute (BSI) says research suggests listening to loud personal stereos could lead to hearing loss, which may get worse with time, resulting in premature deafness.

It is investigating the extent of the problem and its research could lead to national and pan-European guidelines on safe levels of listening.

Research from Australia suggests children aged between 10 and 15 who listen to loud personal stereos for more than six hours a week may be damaging their hearing so badly they could suffer hearing problems 30 years early.

Pneumatic drill

They also say stereo noise is equivalent to listening to a pneumatic drill for eight hours a day.

[ image: Stereos should not be over 85 decibels in volume]
Stereos should not be over 85 decibels in volume
And a study by the National Acoustic Laboratories, the average sound level produced by personal stereos is 95-96 decibels - some 10 to 11 decibels over recommended sound levels.

David Lazenby, BSI's director of standards, said: "BSI is concerned that the average sound levels on personal stereos can be well above the 85 decibels recommended by health authorities.

"The responsible committee will be looking into a broad range of issues with a view to publishing national guidelines."

The guidelines are likely to be published early next year and could lead to recommendations that volume controls be restricted as well as the inclusion of safety warnings with personal stereos.

But Hugh Pelter of the Electronic Equipment Manufacturers said manufacturers already warned customers to avoid high volume levels.

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