Pump up the volume and risk popping your ears, experts warn
MORE than half of Ireland's 'MP3 generation' risk damaging their hearing by listening to music at dangerously high volumes.
Specialists last night warned that one-in-five people were blasting their ears with sound levels of 100 decibels or more -- the equivalent of a pneumatic drill only 10 feet away.
The European Commission also fears 10pc of 30-year-olds will have to wear a hearing device within the next decade because they listen to music too loudly through earphones.
Television presenter Dr Mark Hamilton, who unveiled the findings as he launched Hearing Awareness Week, spoke of his own hearing difficulties and encouraged people not to take their ears for granted.
"I have had partial hearing in my left ear since childhood, so I have to value my hearing now, because whether I am broadcasting, DJing or using a stethoscope, I couldn't work without it," he said.
"Noise-induced hearing loss is generally preventable, so it is hugely important that people are aware of the damage they can do to their hearing and take steps to protect it, whether it's turning the volume down on your MP3 player or protecting your eardrums at gigs.
"For people who have a hearing loss, ignoring it can be detrimental as they can do further damage from pumping up the volume."
A spokesperson for hearing healthcare provider Hidden Hearing advised MP3 users to follow the 60/60 guideline.
"They should not listen for more than an hour a day nor go beyond 60pc of volume," the spokesperson advised.
However, the survey of 1,000 people carried out for Hidden Hearing found 51pc of MP3 users were listening to their players at volume levels above 89 decibels for up to two hours a day.
While 40pc of market-leading MP3 players reached sound levels of more than 100 decibels -- which can damage hearing in just 30 minutes -- some reached a maximum volume of 115 decibels, the equivalent sound level of a jet plane taking off and which should not be listened to for more than 30 seconds.
Singer Julie Feeney joined Dr Hamilton at the campaign launch with an impromptu lunchtime gig on Dublin's Dawson Street.
The campaign includes a roadshow in which a Hidden Hearing mobile clinic will visit Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick and Belfast. The company will also offer free tests at its 57 stores.
For advice on hearing health, log on to www.hearing awarenessweek.ie or phone 1800 882 884.