Reduce noise from consumer products

Some consumer products make noise loud enough to damage your hearing.

Personal stereo systems (like iPods® and MP3 players) with headphones or earphones can be dangerous if played too loudly. Some toys and tools also make very loud noises.

Health risks

The louder the noise and the longer you are exposed to it, the more dangerous it is.

  • An intense sound close to your ear (like from a rifle, cap gun or firecracker) can cause immediate and severe hearing loss that may be permanent.
  • Using some consumer products regularly at very loud levels can lead to permanent hearing loss over time.
  • If your personal stereo system is so loud that you cannot hear sounds around you (like traffic), your personal safety may be at risk.

Did you know?

  • If someone standing a metre away from you has to shout to be understood, the sound levels around you are probably more than 85 decibels (dBA). You face a significant risk of permanent hearing loss if you are exposed to these sound levels for eight hours or more a day.
  • If someone standing 30 cm away has to shout to be understood, the levels probably exceed 95 dBA. This means a significant risk of permanent hearing loss if you are exposed for 45 minutes or more a day.
  • If someone has to shout into your ear to be understood, the sound levels around you probably exceed 105 dBA. There is a significant risk of permanent hearing loss if you are exposed for just five minutes a day.

Safety tips

  • Reduce exposure to noise. Limit the amount of time you spend listening to loud music, or doing leisure activities that are really noisy.
  • Know your noise limit. If someone a metre away from you must shout to be understood, the sound level of the toy, tool or electronic device is probably too loud and may be hazardous.
  • Play music low. Keep your music at enjoyable, but safe levels. Reduce background noise so you can use a lower volume level.
  • Wear ear protection. When you must be around loud noises that may be hazardous, wear a hearing protection device like earplugs or earmuffs. The device should be as well fitted as possible. See an audiologist for help.
  • Plan quiet time. If you experience temporary hearing loss or tinnitus after leisure or work activities, be sure to schedule quiet time to allow your ears to recover fully.
  • Buy quieter toys. If you have to yell to be heard above the sound of a toy, it is likely too loud for a child and should not be used. Look for sound-making toys that have volume-control features or an on/off switch so that sound can be kept low or turned off.

Early signs of hearing loss

Talk to your doctor if you have concerns about your hearing, or if you experience any of the early signs of hearing loss, including:

  • trouble following a conversation when there are background sounds (like at a social gathering or in a cafeteria)
  • the perception that people mumble when they speak
  • hearing a ringing, buzzing, roaring, or rushing sound in your ear when there is nothing making these sounds (this condition is called tinnitus)

It's important to realize there is no way to know how sensitive your ears are to damage from sound, until the damage is done. Prevention is the only way to protect yourself against noise-induced hearing loss.

Did you know?

These are examples of sound levels that can be produced by some leisure products/activities:

  • Personal stereo systems (when used as bought): 60 to 110 dBA
  • Home and car audio: 84 to 108 dBA
  • Power tools: 85 to 113 dBA
  • Music in fitness classes: 89 to 96 dBA
  • Music in dance bars: 90 to 110 dBA
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