Recent reports about a legal suit in the state of California
concerning the risk of hearing loss should not be regarded as anything really
new. Allegedly, the iPOD can produce sound levels up to 115dB and if you are
exposed to those levels for anything but a short time, you will certainly
experience temporary hearing loss. If you do it repeatedly, you will go
Partly, the American legal suit is based on the fact that Apple
has limited the output of iPODs sold in France to 100dB – still very loud but
not as dangerous as 115dB. My response to this that all iPODs, MP3 players,
Discmans, etc do come with a volume control. The iPOD’s volume control is
particularly intriguing but it works very well – you can turn the level up and
down at will. Turn it up really high and yes, your hearing could be damaged. Do
iPOD users care? Probably not.
Should they come with a hearing warning? No. Warnings don’t
work for cigarettes or alcohol so why would they work for iPODs.
Are you worried about your son’s or daughter’s hearing? If you
can hear the music while they are wearing the earphones, it is probably quite
loud, so yes, be concerned. I wish you good luck in trying to change their
There is nothing new here. People have been abusing their
hearing ever since personal music players have been around – for the last 25
years at least. Probably a majority of the population have inflicted significant
hearing loss on themselves by the time they are 40. And because hearing loss is
so insidious, they probably don’t even know it. A huge number of people these
days listen to their car radios or TVs with the sound levels very high – a sure
sign that they are at least partially deaf.
In fact, I find it ironic that people willingly and regularly
subject themselves to sound levels that would cause a punitive action against
their employers by Workcover, if it happened while they were working.
Of more concern to me is the number of people who now wear
(use?) iPODs while walking or jogging along the road. More usually than not,
they jog while facing away from the traffic so they are completely oblivious to
any hazard from passing traffic. In effect, they are lacking road sense as well
as any concern for their own hearing. It seems to me that any pedestrian killed
or injured while using an iPOD or other player must be regarded as having
contributed to their own misfortune.
If you are a driver and you see someone jogging along the road,
assume they are wearing an iPOD and be especially wary – they probably don’t
know you are right behind them!