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Blog

MP3 players are causing hearing loss!

Nick Moomaw

Today 40% of U.S adults own a MP3 player, Ipod, or other types of playback devices. These devices poise a huge threat to hearing loss. There are three major aspects that contribute to this threat:

  1. Volume Level 
  2. Type of headphone (In the ear vs. Over the ear)
  3. Length of time used (approximately 1 hour each day)

It should come to no surprise learning that exposing your ears to constant high volumes can and will result in some sort of hearing loss. 59% of teenagers and 34% of adults listen to their music at high volumes for an approximate time of one hour everyday, according to a poll done by CNN. MP3 players along with other playback devices can reach around 100 decibels (measurement of loudness). At that level your ears should only be exposed for up to 15 minutes. By simply turning the volume lower and listening for less time you save some risk involved with using these playback devices.

Playback devices typically come with a pair of earbuds. Earbuds are tiny headphones that are placed directly into the ear canal. Because of this close contact to your eardrum and sensory hairs, these earbuds can add an additional 9 decibels to the sound level in which you are partaking in while listening to music. The recommended tool preferred for those who enjoy listening to music are the headphones that fit over your head and on the outside of the users ears. This decreases the sound level in which one is exposing their ears to. To get the most out of the music you are listening to while trying your best to limit the decibel rate you are engaging in, it is highly recommended to wear noise cancelling headphones. In order for most to accurately hear what is being played from the playback device being used, the volume is turned up to mask over background noise. This adds approximately 20 extra decibels on top of the sound you are trying to eliminate. For example, lets say you are mowing the lawn. An average lawn mower puts out around 90 dB (decibels). In order to hear the music you wish to listen to while doing an everyday chore, you would need to increase the volume to cover the background noise. At this point you are looking at around 100 dB which is a very high amount and should only be listened to for around 15 minutes maximum. 

If users are listening to their music at moderate to low volume levels permanent or severe hearing loss is less likely to happen. Below is a quick example of decibel level compared to time listening:

  • 85 dB -> 8 hours can cause extreme hearing loss
  • 88 dB -> 4 hours can cause the same amount of damage 
  • 100-105 dB -> 15 minutes is the maximum amount of time you should expose your ears to this level of sound. 

Hearing loss due to MP3 players, Ipods, and other playback devices can be monitored and prevented by being aware of the intensity in which you are listening to your music and even how you are listening to the music. By limiting the time exposed to high volumes and exterminating background noise you are already taking two giant steps towards preserving your hearing.