AU students are not concerned about a recent study that showed excessive use of the Apple iPod’s ear bud headphones might be related to the increase of hearing loss among the younger generation.
“I’m not worried at all,” said Jacqueline Christy, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. “I listen to my iPod on the way to class, but not that loud.”
Long-term exposure as well as high volumes can contribute to early hearing loss, according to an article from the Wall Street Journal.
Daniel Bruey, director of the Student Health Center, said that hearing problems are not a common complaint among students who visit the Health Center.
“I trust the audiologists that warn that consistent exposure to loud noises can cause permanent hearing loss,” Bruey said. “Most young people don’t realize that the choices they make now, such as listening to loud music, especially with earphones so close to the eardrum, could affect their hearing in the future.”
People using their iPods during their commute to work, in-between classes and for recreation could be damaging to their hearing if they listen to their music too loud or for too long.
Mariel Conway, a freshman in the School of Communication, uses her iPod at a normal volume.
“I’ll listen to my iPod to get pumped up for a swim meet,” said Conway. “But I never have it on so loud that it hurts.”
The research firm, NDP Group, reported that 28 percent of the U.S. population owns a MP3 player. Apple controls 70 percent of the MP3 market, however all MP3 players can be linked to possible hearing loss, according to The Wall Street Journal study.
According to Professor Paul Oehlers of AU’s audio technology department, listening to loud music or other sustained loud noises in general is not good.
“Because my field is audio, I make sure that my listening levels are generally around 40 to 60 decibels,” Oehlers said. “Not only are college students exposed to high decibel levels via their iPods, but also at clubs, parties and live concerts, where the levels are loud enough to significantly contribute to hearing loss. Earbuds place the sound transducer in close proximity to the inner ear where even minute changes in amplitude levels can have a dramatic effect.”
The issue has also gained attention from statements made by Pete Townshend, the guitarist for The Who. At 60-years-old, Townshend must take 36-hour breaks between recording sessions to allow his ears to recover since his music career, involving excessive exposure to high decibels has damaged his hearing, he told the Associated Press.
A recent WebMD article reported that a typical iPod can reach volumes comparable to a chainsaw, which is about 110 decibels, and iPods with quality headphones can reach as high as 130 decibels. Europe now has a limit of 100 decibels on all iPods while the U.S. and Canada have no limitations. The article also states that hearing damage can occur in as short as 15 minutes of use at high volumes.
Listening to an MP3 player for an hour at 60 percent volume is a safe limit, according to research referred to in The Wall Street Journal.