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September 29, 2009

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EU wants to quieten down MP3 players

NOW hear this, if you still can: The European Union said yesterday it wants makers of popular digital music players to recommend users turn the volume down to preserve their hearing.

The EU's Consumer Affairs Commissioner Meglena Kuneva said experts and industry will together draft tougher standards to limit hearing loss.

"If you want to enjoy your favorite songs in 20 or 30 years' time, turn the volume down," Kuneva said.

Action is necessary because there is cause for concern over health risks, especially to younger people, she said.

An EU scientific advisory body says between 2.5 million and 10 million Europeans could suffer hearing loss from listening to MP3 players at unsafe volumes - over 89 decibels - for more than an hour daily over five years.

The EU's executive commission said the maximum sound levels of players now being sold range from 80 to 115 decibels. Using different earphones could add up to 9 decibels. Above 120 decibels is equivalent to the level of noise generated by an airplane taking off.

Kuneva said the new standards would see new players include a default maximum sound level of 80 decibels. However users could still switch that default off.

She urged manufacturers to beef up health warnings with players sold.

Manufacturers welcomed the move, but said they would have to study the best way on how to issue better health warnings.

Apple has already moved in recent years to upgrade software and iPods to limit volume levels after France passed a law capping sound to 100 decibels for music players.


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