IPOD Ear

By: Rebekah Baum
By: Rebekah Baum

It's more than a craze, it's a revolution...

"Traffic flow is just unbelievable. We can't keep them in stock. Even before Christmas, they were gone," says Circuit City employee Bryan Pyle.

More than 40-million Americans own an I-Pod and many use ear bud headphones that are placed directly outside of the ear canal.

Rockford audioprosthologist Donald Kleindl says many I-pod or MP3 player users are unaware of the damage they're doing to their hearing, "They're playing Russian roulette with their hearing."

"We're only supposed to be exposed to levels of 85 decibels for an hour a day...we are exceeding that on our way to work, on the train...and it's going to be a definite communication problem in the future," says Kleindl, Director of Professional Hearing Health Centers.

Let's put the noise into perspective. A normal conversation - 60 decibels, a blowdryer - 90 decibels, an I-pod at peak volumes can reach 115 decibels or more, tremendously exceeding a safe exposure limit of 85.

"It's very gradual. The first sign is ringing of the ears. The second sign is not being able to understand women and children who have higher pitched voices because, again, the damage takes place in the higher frequencies," says Kleindl.

Kleindl says always keep the sound at a comfortable level and limit prolonged use. Kleindl says if we don't protect ourselves...hearing loss cases in the next generation could double or triple.

I-pods in Europe are regulated capping the sound at 100 decibels. There is no regulation in the U.S. meaning the device volume could hover around the human threshold of pain which is 120 decibels.


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