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Ten Million Music Lovers Face Risk

  • January 26th, 2009
  • Posted by EUEditor

headphones-ec.jpgPersonal music players can be dangerous to your hearing, provoking official action to try and deal with the problem, at Brussels.


Technical experts, scientists, industry and consumer representatives, European Parliamentarians and regulators gather this week ay Brussels (27.1.09), to search out ways of reducing hearing damage from the increasingly popular miniature headsets.

On the agenda: possible new regulations governing the music technology, or a revision of existing safety standards to “better protect consumers”.

Meglena Kuneva, European Commissioner for Consumers, spelled out the options this week:

“I am concerned that up to 10 million people in the EU, who are frequent users of personal music players and mobile phones at high acoustic levels, may be unknowingly damaging their hearing”, she said.

“In the light of the recent scientific advice, we need to act quickly, to look again at the controls in place, to make sure they are fully effective and keep pace with new technology so that consumers benefit from the highest safety standards.”

Last October the EU’s Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) found that 5-10% of personal music player listeners risked permanent hearing loss — if they listen to a personal music player at high volume settings for more than one hour per day over a period of at least 5 years.

It is obvious around the streets of European cities that many consumers are well on track to achieve that level of exposure.


“In recent years sales of personal music players have soared, in particular those of MP3 players. Overall, in the EU, it is estimated that roughly 50 to 100 million people may be listening to portable music players on a daily basis.

“In the last four years, estimated unit sales range between 184-246 million for all portable audio devices and range between 124-165 million for MP3 players. Across the EU, many millions of people use personal music players daily and, if they use them inappropriately, put themselves at risk of hearing damage.

“A European safety standard already exists restricting the noise level of personal music players to 100 dB, but there is increased concern over hearing damage from excessive exposure to such sources. Such damage can be prevented to a large extent by measures such as reducing the noise exposure levels and duration.”


European Commission, Brussels; Consumers: European Commission gathers experts to tackle the health risks from personal music players, 23.1.09, IP/09/120

EC, Brussels, Scientific Committee Opinion on person al music players, press release:, (26.1.09)

Picture: European Commission