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Tuesday, 3 August, 1999, 15:39 GMT 16:39 UK
Loud music threat to the young
Loud rock concerts can cause permanent hearing damage
Nearly half of young people experience hearing problems after being exposed to loud music, according to research by the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID).

The increased exposure to loud music threatens to create a generation who develop hearing problems in middle age, the RNID warns.

However, the survey of 366 16 to 34-year-olds also found that eight out of 10 young people who go to clubs and pop concerts regularly are unconcerned about their hearing.

This is despite the fact that 62% of regular clubbers and 72% of regular concert goers report problems with their hearing.

Concerts and nightclubs produce sounds that can register up to 120 decibels, louder than a pneumatic drill. In the workplace employees are required to wear hearing protection when levels exceed 85 decibels.

Reports of tinnitus - ringing in the ears - experienced by young people exposed to loud music have increased threefold since the early 1980s.

The report found that 6.8% of people not regularly exposed to loud music of 85 decibels or over suffer from tinnitus compared to 20% of people who are.

Symptoms in some cases last only a few hours, but they are a sign that damage to hearing has occurred.

The damage is cumulative and permanent, and the risk increases with greater volume and longer exposure.

Safer Sound campaign

Tim Westwood
Radio One's Tim Westwood supports the campaign
The RNID is launching a Safer Sound campaign to warn young people of the dangers of prolonged exposure to loud music.

They will be advised to take simple precautions when listening to music to reduce the risk of hearing damage.

The RNID highlights a Norwegian study where within the space of 10 years hearing loss among 18-year-olds increased from 15% to 35%.

This was strongly linked to an increase in leisure noise exposure. Within seven years of mounting a full-scale public information campaign these levels dropped by more than half, back to 15%.

The RNID warns that those who work in the music industry have greater awareness and are taking fewer risks with their hearing.

More DJs and musicians now wear earplugs while working. The RNID has enlisted the support of Radio One's Tim Westwood, Boy George, Judge Jules and Tall Paul.

James Strachan, RNID chief executive, said: "The evidence is clear - loud music can damage your hearing and worryingly more young people than ever are putting themselves at risk.

"The real tragedy is that this type of hearing loss is entirely preventable yet once damage occurs there is no cure.

"We are roller-coastering towards an epidemic of hearing loss in middle rather than old age. Being aware of the danger is the first step towards keeping your hearing."

A series of music themed postcards, with Safer Sound advice will be distributed in bars, pubs and clubs across the UK.

For information on how to protect your hearing contact the RNID Helpline on 0870 6050123.

BBC News' Lisa Holland reports on the drive to make clubbers protect themselves
See also:

08 Jun 99 | Health
Hearing services 'are grim'
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