Less than a week before a ban on super-sized sugary drinks is set to take effect in New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to add earbud headphones to the list of health dangers for New Yorkers.
City health officials plan to warn young people via a social-media campaign that they risk hearing loss from listening to music at high volume on personal music players.
“The Health Department is aiming to better inform and educate New Yorkers about ways to protect hearing from exposure to loud sounds. With public and private support, a public education campaign is being developed to raise awareness about safe use of personal music players and risks of loud and long listening,” according to a statement from the NYC Health Department.
Music players that use “buds” inserted into the ears pose a greater threat to hearing than older devices. Government health surveys show hearing loss rose 30 percent among teens between 1988 and 2006.
“We’re anticipating we’re going to see more and more noise-induced hearing loss in a younger group of individuals because of this exposure to loud noise,” Dr. Ronald Hoffman of the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary said last year.
The city’s new Hearing Loss Prevention Media Campaign will target teens and young adults using social media like Facebook and Twitter. The Fund for Public Health is providing a $250,000 grant for the campaign.
“I’m seeing a whole host of young teenagers who are coming in with early signs of noise-induced hearing loss,” audiologist Dr. Won Choe of ENT& Allergy told WCBS 880′s Wayne Cabot. “These kids are bombarded by media.”
Choe said earbuds like the ones that come with many Apple products seem to be most damaging.
“The thing is, it’s hard to measure how much these kids are getting. So you want to generally keep it down below, I’d say, 70 or 80 decibels,” Dr. Choe said. “The thing is, how do you measure that? Especially with these ear buds, they don’t have very good sound isolation so inevitably, they’re trying to drown out the background noise with increased volume.”
Choe, who is not involved with the city effort, said the more expensive noise-cancelling headphones are better for the user’s hearing and are recommended for those who are listening to personal music devices while commuting.
The audiologist said people standing nearby should not be able to hear what you are listening to in your headphones.
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