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Over a billion people at risk of hearing loss: WHO
Tuesday March 3, 2015 10:46 PM, IINA

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults are at risk of hearing loss due to the unsafe use of personal audio devices and exposure to damaging levels of sound.

In a statement published Friday on its website, the WHO warned that young people using unsafe personal audio devices, including smartphones, as well as exposure to damaging levels of sound at noisy entertainment venues such as nightclubs, bars and sporting events, are placing themselves at risk of hearing loss, which has potentially devastating consequences for physical and mental health, education and employment.

Data from studies in middle-, and high-income countries analyzed by WHO indicates that among teenagers and young adults aged 12-35 years, nearly 50 percent are exposed to unsafe levels of sound from the use of personal audio devices and around 40 percent are exposed to potentially damaging levels of sound at entertainment venues.

Unsafe levels of sounds can be, for example, exposure to in excess of 85 decibels (dB) for eight hours or 100dB for 15 minutes, the statement said.

"Young people who are placing themselves at risk of hearing loss should be aware that once they lose their hearing, it won't come back," said Dr. Etienne Krug, WHO Director for the Department for Management of Non-communicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention.

"Taking simple preventive actions will allow people to continue to enjoy themselves without putting their hearing at risk," he said.

WHO recommends that the highest permissible level of noise exposure in the workplace is 85 dB up to a maximum of eight hours per day, while exposure to noise levels of 100 dB is safe for no more than 15 minutes.

Teenagers and young people can better protect their hearing by keeping the volume down on personal audio devices, wearing earplugs when visiting noisy venues, and using carefully fitted, and, if possible, noise-cancelling earphones/headphones.

They can also limit the time spent engaged in noisy activities by taking short listening breaks and restricting the daily use of personal audio devices to less than one hour.

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