Listening to music via MP3 players while travelling in buses and trains have become the latest trend among the younger generation today.
Not only MP3 Players, but also ipods and mobile phones are used to listen to music to overcome the boredom while travelling. Sometimes, thisis done when they do not like the music played in the bus, or simply because trendy children do it.
Whatever the reason may be, a majority of youth in this modern generation are addicted to this . Even while walking on the road many youngsters plug in the handsets of music players into their ears. If they are in a noisy place, they naturally increase the volume to the maximum to get a better reception by drowning the noise in the surroundings. But, is this habit safe?
According to a recent research conducted by the Industrial Technology Institute (ITI), this habit among the Sri Lankan youth can lead to a hearing-impaired future generation. Senior Deputy Director of ITI, Ananda Pannila said that listening to high-pitched music for most of the day, and in close proximity to the eardrums, could lead to loss of hearing.
"Most children, when they are in noisy places, increase the volume of the MP3 player to the maximum. This produces a sound of around 85 - 100 decibels inside the ear. This is equal to a noise created by a loud live band at a wedding reception, he explained.
The research team had developed an artificial ear with a microphone in place of the eardrum to test the effects of different frequencies of noise from different types of players.Then by using several phone models that are available in the local market they had measured the impact of the decibel levels on the eardrum. After experimenting with varying levels and models they had finally found that when the volume is increased to 90 per cent of the maximum possible volume , the player produces a sound of around 90 decibels, but when the volume is increased to 50 per cent of the maximum possible volume it generates a sound of around 70 decibels or less.
According to the general rule, a sound of 85 decibels or below is considered as safe to the human ear. "We found out that most of the phones and MP3 players, which are available at very low prices, are not up to the standard and can cause more damage to our ear," said Pannila. "If a person is listening to music through the head phones by increasing the volume to the maximum, he should not continue that for more than 10 minutes," he warned. "The recommended level to listen to music is by keeping the volum level to 50 per cent and that too only for a maximum of three hours at a stretch,"he said.Hearing impairments does not occur within a day or two, like catching a common cold.
It takes years to develop a hearing problem. Once the damage is done, it is not reversible. Then the only remedy will be to wear hearing aids. If that happens, life is not going to be easy at all. "This is not a problem unique to Sri Lanka," he added.Health officials in the USA and in many European countries too face this problem. As a safety measure, now many players have software to warn the user of the health risk, if they exceed the safety limit," he said.