Hearing management

Updated 11 December 2017

Health warnings for MP3 players

MP3 players could soon come with a cigarette-style health labels to warn users about risks to their hearing, if the EU's executive has its way.

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MP3 players could soon come with a cigarette-style health labels to warn users about risks to their hearing if the European Union's executive has its way, officials in Brussels said.

There should be "enough information that sensible people know enough to decide" how loud and how long they play music for, EU Consumer Affairs Commissioner Meglena Kuneva told journalists in Brussels.

According to an EU study released in late 2008, up to 10 million people in Europe risk going deaf because they listen to very loud music on their portable music players too often.

"Often" in this context means for more than an hour per day over a five-year period. The commission has therefore asked MP3 manufacturers to come up with ways of limiting the damage.

"We want to put the technical solutions in place to reduce the risk as much as possible," Kuneva said.

Lower volume set as default
One option would be to bring in new laws making manufacturers set a lower volume as the default setting of their product, but allowing the user to override it if they wanted.

But Bridget Cosgrave, head of industry group Digital Europe, said that manufacturers would oppose any attempt to impose volume limits which go beyond the current law in EU member states.

Users have to be able to listen to their music at the maximum volume "in order to allow their personal engagement," she said.

The second option would therefore be to find some way of warning the user that they are putting their hearing at risk, such as a message displayed on the player's screen, Kuneva said.

The commission expects a response from industry sometime in the next two years, she said. – (Sapa, September 2009)

Read more:
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Dr Kara Hoffman graduated from UCT in 2004, thereafter she completed her year of community service in Durban. In 2010 she completed her Masters Degree in Paediatric Aural Rehabilitation from UKZN. In 2016, she became a Doctor of Audiology through the University of Arizona (ATSU). Dr Hoffman and her partner Lauren Thompson opened a fully diagnostic audiology practice called Thompson & Hoffman Audiology Inc. In 2011 with world-class technology and equipment to be able to offer the broad public all hearing-related services including hearing testing for adults and babies, vestibular (balance) assessments and rehabilitation, industrial audiology, hearing devices, central auditory processing assessments for school-aged children, school screening, neonatal hearing screening programmes at Alberlito and Parklands Hospital, cochlear implants and other implantable devices, medicolegal assessments and advanced electroacoustic assessments of hearing. Thompson and Hoffman Audiology Inc. are based at Alberlito Hospital in Ballito, St Augustines Hospital in Durban and at 345 Essenwood Road, Musgrave. The practices are all wheelchair friendly. There are three audiologists that practice from Thompson & Hoffman – including Dr Kara Hoffman, Lauren Thompson & Minette Lister. The practice boasts professional, highly qualified, and extensive diagnostic services where all your hearing healthcare needs can be met. The additional licensing in vestibular assessment and rehabilitation, paediatric rehabilitation and cochlear implantation places this practice in one of the top specialist audiological positions in South Africa, with a wealth of experience in all clinical areas of audiology and is a very well respected and sought-after practice.

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