Health chiefs call for clubbers to be given EARPLUGS amid fears a billion people could lose their hearing due to exposure to loud music
- World Health Organisation released guidelines to encourage ‘safe listening’
- Body urged nightclubs and bars should provide customers with earplugs
- It warned around one billion under-35s risk losing hearing due to loud music
Nightclubs and bars should provide customers with earplugs and quiet chill-out rooms to protect against hearing damage, the World Health Organisation urged yesterday.
It warned around one billion people aged 12 to 35 risk losing their hearing due to ‘prolonged and excessive’ exposure to loud music.
And to mark World Hearing Day today, it has released global guidelines for venues to encourage ‘safe listening’.
This includes ‘making personal hearing protection available’ and creating ‘quiet rooms’ for clubbers to rest their ears.
Nightclubs and bars should provide customers with earplugs and quiet chill-out rooms to protect against hearing damage, the World Health Organisation urged yesterday (stock photo)
It says the maximum average sound level should be restricted to 100 decibels and sound levels should be recorded and monitored using specialist equipment.
Staff should also be trained on the dangers of loud music and venue acoustics and sound systems should be ‘optimised’ to ensure ‘enjoyable sound quality and safe listening’, it adds.
Dr Bente Mikkelsen, WHO Director for the Department for Noncommunicable Diseases, said: ‘Millions of teenagers and young people are at risk of hearing loss due to the unsafe use of personal audio devices and exposure to damaging sound levels at venues such as nightclubs, bars, concerts and sporting events.
‘The risk is intensified as most audio devices, venues and events do not provide safe listening options and contribute to the risk of hearing loss.
‘The new WHO standard aims to better safeguard young people as they enjoy their leisure activities.’
The new standard was developed under WHO’s ‘Make Listening Safe’ initiative which seeks to improve listening practices – especially among young people.
Exposure to loud sounds causes temporary hearing loss or tinnitus but prolonged or repeated exposure can lead to permanent hearing damage, resulting in irreversible hearing loss.
Crystal Rolfe, associate director of the Royal National Institute for the Deaf, said: ‘This is a really important development.
‘We know that overexposure to loud noise is one of the biggest causes of permanent hearing loss and tinnitus, yet this kind of hearing damage is preventable.
‘The louder the noise and the longer you listen to it, the greater the risk to your hearing.
‘We always recommend everyone takes steps to protect their own hearing in noisy venues, such as wearing earplugs, taking regular breaks of at least five minutes every hour, and staying away from speakers.
‘But it can’t just be down to individuals, so we are really pleased to see the World Health Organisation placing responsibility on event venues to take positive steps to protect their customers’ hearing, where this is at risk from loud music.
‘This would mean a much safer listening experience and greater awareness of protecting hearing, so that people can continue to enjoy music for years to come.’
Dr Ren Minghui, assistant director-general at the WHO, said: ‘Governments, civil society and private sector entities such as manufacturers of personal audio devices, sound systems, and video gaming equipment as well as owners and managers of entertainment venues and events have an important role to play in advocating for the new global standard.
‘We must work together to promote safe listening practices, especially among young people.’