Reduce volume: WHO focuses on harmful use of smartphone
GENEVA: More than a billion young people risk hearing damage due to excessive use of smartphones and other audio devices, the UN warned Tuesday and proposed new safety standards for safe volumes.
In an effort to keep the hearing, the World Health Organization and the International Telecommunications Union have issued a non-binding international standard for the production and use of audio equipment.
Young people are especially prone to risky listening habits.
Approximately half of people aged 12 to 35 or 1.1 billion people are at risk due to "long-lasting and excessive exposure to loud sounds, including music they listen to through personal sound equipment," the UN health agency said.
WHO chief Tedros Adhan Ghebreyesus stressed that the world already has "technological know-how to prevent hearing loss".
"It should not happen that so many young people will continue to hurt hearing while listening to music," he said in his statement.
Young people, he said, "must understand that when they lose their hearing they will not return."
Currently, about five percent of the world's population or about 466 million people, including 34 million children, suffer from hearing loss.
Who said it was unclear how many of them damaged their listening with the dangerous use of audio equipment.
It continued that the new standard developed with the ITU would go a long way to "protect these young consumers as they do something to do."
WHO considers a volume higher than 85 decibels for eight hours or 100 decibels per 15 minutes as dangerous.
A standard security hearing device, and the system calls for "audio devices" to be included in all audio devices to monitor the volume and duration of user exposure to sound and to assess the risk of their hearing.
This system could alert users if they have dangerous listening habits.
WHO also requires both parental and automatic volume control of audio devices to prevent dangerous use.
While some smartphones and other audio devices already offer some of these features, the UN would like to see a uniform standard used to protect against hearing loss.
"Think of it as a motorway drive, but without a speedometer in the car or a speed limit," Shelly Chadha of the World Health Organization told reporters in Geneva.
"What we have suggested is that your smartphones are equipped with a speedometer with a measuring system that tells you how much sound you have and tells you if you cross the border."