WASHINGTON, DC– Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA), a senior Democrat on the House Energy & Commerce Committee, released the following statement in response to today’s announcement that Apple will provide updated software for their most recent iPod music players, to give consumers the option to set a maximum volume level for the device.

“I commend Apple for taking this important first step in giving consumers the tools they need to protect themselves from possible hearing loss,” said Rep. Markey. “There is no doubt that consumers have benefited from the remarkable innovation we have seen in portable music players over the past few years in terms of both choice and value, but we need to make sure to avoid preventable hearing damage that could turn consumers off to these devices permanently.”

“It is my hope that other portable music device manufacturers will follow Apple’s lead and give consumers the chance to set the maximum volume at a safe level,” Rep. Markey continued. “At the same time, further research is needed to determine with certainty the possibilities of noise induced hearing losses from these devices and safe limits for both volume and listening duration. The bottom line is that consumers need to know if they are at risk and what can be done to reduce the possibility of injury from these devices. Once consumers have this information they will be better able to use Apple’s new technology to protect themselves.”

Rep. Markey has lead the effort in Congress to prevent noise induced hearing loss from portable music players, and this January he sent a letter to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDOCD), National Institutes of Health requesting a review of the available scientific information regarding the impact of portable music players. In their response, the NIDOCD agreed that this was an area of concern, but the limited nature of the available research prevents them from offering the type of firm recommendations that are needed to ensure that consumers are fully protected from the possibility of injury.

For more information about Rep. Markey’s work on consumer protection and to see copies of his correspondence with the NIDOCD, check out: http://www.markey.house.gov/

Copy of Letter to NIDOCD (1/26/06) Copy of Letter to NIDOCD (1/26/06) (77.09 KB)
Copy of Response Letter from NIDOCD (2/14/06) Copy of Response Letter from NIDOCD (2/14/06) (383.64 KB)

March 29, 2006


CONTACT: Tara McGuiness
Kate Reinhalter