hearing loss have discovered that loud iPods have now overtaken noisy workplaces as the most common cause of hearing damage." />

I say, isn't that a little loud?

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The research was carried out at Michigan University in America.  They established that millions of commuters risk damaging their hearing because they set the volume level to high on their MP3 players.  The occupational health experts found that 9 out of 10 people using public transport were exposed to excessive noise through listening to loud music through their headphones.

Professor Rick Neitzel, who co-authored the study, found it startling that two in three people were exposed to noise through music.  It has widely been assumed that the workplace is the primary risk for noise exposure.  But the research suggests that focusing on the workplace isn't enough and that more needs to be done to limit the exposure outside of noisy workplaces.

This is clearly a serious problem.  For some reason we tolerate exposure to noise that damages our hearing, yet we wouldn't tolerate being exposed to something at a level considered hazardous which could cause cancer or chronic disease would we?

Researchers explained noise exposure among 4,500 New Yorkers who used public transport, in work and non work related activities, MP3 player and stereo use and during domestic activities.   They found that the average New York public transport user spent about 380 hours using buses and trains and were exposed to average noise levels of 72 - 81 decibels.  To assist with a comparison for noise levels the following may be helpful:

-- 60 decibels = average speaking level
-- 80 decibels = busy street corner
-- 90 decibels = circular saw
-- 115 decibels = baby crying

In the UK and in accordance with The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2001 the maximum permitted noise level is 87 decibels.  Employers are required to provide ear protection to employees exposed to 85 decibels and they have to make ear protection available on request to employees exposed to 80 decibels.

The research concluded that a growing number of studies show noise causes stress, sleep disturbance and heart disease.  It may be the noise that is contributing to some of the major health problems.

So what can we do to reduce noise levels, especially for commuters?  Do the cheaper headphones fail to seal against the ear properly?  Does this cause commuters to turn up the volume to block out exterior noise?  Are quiet zones on trains actually adhered to?  Do we need to make our trains and buses quieter?  The list appears endless with no actual cure to be heard.

For further information please contact Karen Thompson, a Legal Executive in our Personal Injury team, on 02380857344 or at karen.thompson@bllaw.co.uk

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