ONE in 10 30-year-olds will be unable to hear without the help of a hearing aid within the next decade as a direct result of listening to their MP3 players too loudly.
Figures released as part of Hearing Awareness Week have claimed that a generation of adults are risking premature deafness due to the high volumes at which they listen to music.
According to Hidden Hearing, the organisers of the campaign, more than half of MP3 player users listen to “dangerously high volumes” of music above 89 decibels for two hours a day, with some system’s reaching the same sound level as “a jet engine”.
A further one in five people turn the volume up to above 100 decibels – the equivalent of standing within 10 feet of a pneumatic drill – while two out of every five MP3 players have volume levels that can cause long-term hearing damage after just 30 minutes.
Hitting out at the situation, high-profile physician and presenter of RTÉ show How Long Will You Live? Dr Mark Hamilton said unless urgent action is taken a generation of Irish adults could suffer premature deafness.
“Noise-induced hearing loss is generally preventable so it is hugely important that people are aware of the damage they can do to their hearing and take steps to protect it, whether it’s turning the volume down on your MP3 player or protecting their eardrums at gigs.
“For people who have a hearing loss, ignoring it can be detrimental as they can do further damage from pumping up the volume,” he said.
The point was emphasised by Meteor award and Choice music prize nominee, Julie Feeney, who held a “silent” disco at the Music Box venue on Dublin’s Dawson Street to highlight the reality of a life without sound.
Singing behind sound proof glass, passers-by could see the musician perform but were unable to hear her unless they used the wireless headphones provided.
As part of the week-long public awareness campaign, Hidden Hearing’s mobile clinic will visit Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick and Belfast.
For every hearing test conducted, Hidden Hearing will make a donation to the Irish Deaf Society.
* Further information is available at www.hearingawarenessweek.ie or from 1800 882 884.
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