Did You Hear that MP3 Players May Damage Your Eardrums?

Paul Lilly

When you find a groovy tune , it's a tough task to turn the dial down below ear shattering levels, and if that statement needed any quantifiable proof, it now has it. According to a study for the European Union, personal music players are threatening permanent hearing loss for as many as 10 million Europeans.

A team of nine experts on the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks conducted the study and warned that most young people aren't aware of the damage until years after it's already done.

"Regularly listening to personal music players at high-volume settings when young often has no immediate effect on hearing but is likely to result in hearing loss later in life," the report said.

Listening to music for just five hours a week at high-volume settings can expose your ears to more noise than permitted in the loudest factory or workplace, and if you have a particularly good set of headphones, cranking up the volume to its highest setting can punish your hears as much as the sound of an airplane taking off.

The new study is one of just several to warn of long-term hearing loss among today's youth, but the older generation might be just as susceptible. Some estimates put the total number of EU residents listening to portable music players at anywhere from 50 million to 100 million out of a total population of 500 million.

If you can't avoid the temptation to avoid cranking up the volume, you might consider investing in crappier music.

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