MP3 PLAYERS, such as iPods, noisy clubs, and music concerts have taken over from noisy factories and road drilling to pose some of the biggest threats to our hearing.
Noise levels above 105dB can damage your hearing if endured for more than 15 minutes each week. But lower levels, such as between 85dB and 90dB can also cause permanent damage if you're exposed to them for hours every day.
• Normal conversation: 60-65dB
• Disco/nightclub/car horn: 110dB
• MP3 player on loud: 112dB
• Chainsaw: 115-120dB
• Rock concert/ambulance siren: 120dB
A handy rule of thumb is that if you can't talk to someone two metres away without shouting, the noise level could be damaging.
• Use earplugs.
• Turn down the music. Don't listen to your personal music player at very high volumes and never to drown out background noise.
• Use the 60:60 rule. Listen to your music at 60pc of the MP3 player's maximum volume for no more than 60 minutes a day.
• Wear headphones. When listening to your personal music player, opt for noise-cancelling headphones, or go retro with older muff-type headphones. These block out background noise and allow you to have the volume lower.
• Turn down the volume on your TV, radio or hi-fi a notch. Even a small reduction in volume can make a big difference to the risk of damage to your hearing. If you need to raise your voice to be heard above the sound, turn it down.
• Use earplugs when you're listening to live music. They can reduce average sound levels by between 15 and 35 decibels.