The EU tells us what to do: turn down your iPod!

Decibels: may cause permanent damage
Decibels: may cause permanent damage

The European Union is trying to reverse one of the biggest health trends today: breaking the rise of hearing loss by restricting volume controls on portable music devices.

The Globe and Mail wrote today that prolonged exposure to loud music causes permanent hearing loss, which has been known for some time. This phenomenon is no surprise considering how loud iPods and other mp3 players can get. On every bus in the city, there is a distorted buzzing noise coming from nearly every earbud. Here’s what the article said:

The European Union announced yesterday that it is capping the volume of such devices after an EU scientific committee warned that prolonged exposure to loud noise from the music players could cause permanent hearing damage. The new rules will require manufacturers to set the maximum volume of personal music players at a safe default level, defined by the scientific committee as either 80 decibels adjusted for exposure limited to 40 hours a week or 89 decibels adjusted for exposure limited to five hours a week.

I myself blast my iPod on the bus, on the street and when I’m walking to work. Despite my insulating, high quality Bose headphones, I just can’t seem to get my music loud enough. At parties and other social gatherings I find myself asking people to repeat themselves. This isn’t just me. Quite a few of my friends have noticed hearing loss in their early twenties — a sure sign of the effect of a Walkman to iPod generation.

The 99 B-Line is no quiet haven. Just to block out the traffic sounds — which are probably loud enough to cause damage too — my volume dial is always nine-tenths full blast. If I take my headphones off, I can surely hear the person next to me listening to Guns ‘N RosesSweet Child O’Mine, and I can even sing the words and bob my head to the tune.

Whether or not it’s a right to play your music at certain volumes in a public space, changing the design of iPods seems a bit ridiculous. I like my Deftones loud, and that’s how it’s got to be.

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