European Union to set volume limits on MP3 players

The European Union says it wants makers of popular digital music players to recommend that users turn the volume down to preserve their hearing, reports the Associated Press. The EU’s consumer affairs commissioner, Meglena Kuneva, said hearing-loss experts and industry executives together will draft tougher standards to limit hearing loss. An EU scientific advisory body says that between 2.5 million and 10 million Europeans could suffer hearing loss from listening to MP3 players at unsafe volumes–over 89 decibels–for more an hour daily for at least five years. The EU’s executive commission said the maximum sound levels of players now being sold range between 80 and 115 decibels; using different earphones could add to those levels by up to 9 decibels. Kuneva said the standards would see new players set the maximum sound level default at 80 decibels. However, users could switch that default off if they wanted to. The standards also would urge manufacturers to beef up health warnings with players sold, either in instruction manuals or on the product itself. "The use of personal music players at high volume settings over a sustained time can lead to permanent hearing damage," said Kuneva. "We need to make sure consumers, particularly young people, are aware of these risks."

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