updated 02:35 pm EDT, Tue September 5, 2006
Warning labels on iPods?
The Royal National Institute for Deaf (RNID) in the UK is requesting that iPods and other MP3 players include health warnings for excessive use at high volumes. The organization is asking portable music player manufacturers such as Apple to warn customers that using such devices for extended periods at high volumes could damage hearing, according to Macworld UK, and is asking for labels stating that fact on packaging or even on the devices themselves. "We know that young people are at risk from losing their hearing prematurely by listening to loud music for too long on MP3 players," said RNID chief executive Dr. John Low. "MP3 player manufacturers have a responsibility to make their customers aware of the risks and the need to listen at sensible levels and we urge them to incorporate prominent warnings into the packaging of their products."
The RNID warns that MP3 player users experiencing a ringing or buzzing in the ears after usage should be taken as a sign that continuous stress to the ears could result in permanent hearing damage.
"New technology and ever-increasing storage capacity enables people to listen non-stop for hours - and at louder volumes than ever before," added Low. "If you are regularly plugged in, it is only too easy to clock up noise doses that could damage your hearing forever."
Apple in September of 2002 was forced to pull its iPods from stores in France to comply with a French law requiring audio devices to output a maximum of 100 decibels. The company issued a firmware update shortly afterward limiting the decibel output to comply with the law, which is 104 decibels elsewhere in Europe.
One iPod owner in early February filed a lawsuit against Apple and sought class action status, claiming that the player causes hearing loss and that the company fails to adequately warn users of the risks. The lawsuit also claimed that Apple's white earbud earphones increase the risks of hearing damage because they do fail to dilute sound entering the ear and are closer to the ear canal than most other headphone models.
A report surfaced in July suggesting that about 14 percent of people who listen to music players such as Apple's iPod do so a "staggering" 28 hours per week, and that the youth of today are at risk of going deaf 30 years earlier in life than their parents did. The survey also revealed that 38 percent of 16 to 34-year-olds were not aware that listening to loud music on a personal music player or going to loud bars or concerts can damage their hearing.