January 26, 2006- Portable Music Players: Are They Just Music to Your Ears?

WASHINGTON, DC – Following reports that personal portable music players allow consumers to play music at levels that can damage hearing, Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA) sent a letter to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, National Institutes of Health requesting a review of the available scientific information regarding the impact of portable music players.

“iPods and other devices have swept the nation – filling the ears of citizens with everything from rock'n'roll to newscast downloads.  These amazing devices bring music to the ears of consumers, but we need to pay attention to the risk of possible hearing loss through overuse or misuse of these devices over time,” said Rep. Markey.  “I am requesting a review of the available scientific information regarding the impact of portable music players on hearing loss.  Consumers need to know if they are at risk and if there are steps that can be taken to mitigate the possibility of injury from these devices while continuing to enjoy the entertainment they provide.”

The letter sent today to James F. Battey, Director of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, National Institutes of Health (NIDCD) requested a report that answers questions about the safety of the devices including:

1. Do portable music players contribute to premature hearing loss?  If so, to what extent?
2. Short of giving up their personal music devices, what can consumers do to protect their hearing?
3. What research is currently available with regard to safe volume limits and exposure time for recreational listening?
4. According to the Washington Post, Apple has declined to provide information on the maximum output level for its iPod devices.[1] What information is readily available to consumers regarding the maximum output level for various portable music devices?
5. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), “Loud noise above 85 decibels can cause permanent hearing loss.”[2] How can consumers determine whether they are listening to music at levels that put them at risk for hearing loss?
6. Do earbuds increase the risk of hearing loss more traditional earmuff style headphones?
7. Are sound-minimizing headsets (either "noise-canceling" or "sound-isolating" headphones) better for your hearing than traditional headphones or earbuds?

For more information about Rep. Markey’s work on consumer protection check out: http://www.markey.house.gov/

Letter to NIH on Portable Music Players and Hearing Loss Copy of letter to NIH

[1] Mott, Gregory. “The iPod and the Fury: A Reality Check of the Recent Reports on Mobile Music and Hearing Loss.” Washington Post. 17 January 2006. 23 January 2006. <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/16/AR2006011601100.html.>

[2] “Unsafe Usage of Portable Music Players May Damage Your Hearing.”American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. 20 December 2005,  23 January 2006. <http://www.asha.org/about/news/releases/mp3players.htm.>

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 26, 2006


 

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Katharine Reinhalter
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