December 13, 2009

MP3 Players Facing Noise Limit In EU

Volume restrictions for MP3 players are set to be introduced by the European Commission in order to protect users' hearing.

All MP3 players are to share the same volume limit, including iPods, the commission said.

Stephen Russell of ANEC told BBC's Politics Show: "There are up to 10 million Europeans, mainly young people, who are at risk of losing their hearing permanently in the next five years due to their personal listening habits. The units on the market at the moment, some of them are capable of generating a volume of beyond 115 decibels; now if we compare that with health and safety legislation, workers are not allowed to be exposed to that levels of volume for more than 30 seconds."

In January, a two-month consultation of all EU standardization bodies will begin, with a final agreement expected in the Spring.

Some players tested have been found to reach 120 decibels, the equivalent of a jet taking off.

Scientists say the maximum volume limit should be 85 decibels.

DigitalEurope spokesperson Tony Graziano disagrees.

"Eighty five decibels would not be appropriate because noise coming from traffic, engines and so on would obliterate the sound," Graziano told BBC.

"The solution must lie in a balance between safety and enjoyment of the product by the consumer."

Conservative MEP Martin Callanan added, "Kids have always listened to their music loud and this is not going to stop them."

"You have to educate them to the risks but ultimately you have to allow personal responsibility and personal choice."