THEY are the bane of every commuter on buses and trains alike, and now research has shown that people who listen to loud music on earphones damage their hearing beyond repair.
The survey found that close to a quarter of under-25s were at serious risk of future deafness and/or hearing loss.
The researchers placed the blame squarely on the ear-splitting volumes people listen to music at on personal players, laptops and other electronic devices.
Hidden Hearing discovered the average person listened to music at around 75 decibels.
That is five decibels more than the noise from a vacuum cleaner and just 15 decibels less than a Boeing 737 jet coming in to land.
Worringly, almost 20pc of respondents listened at 85 or more decibels, significantly increasing their risk of sustaining hearing damage.
This level is equivalent to the noise 100ft away from a diesel train travelling at 45 mph. It is also enough to cause permanent damage after just eight hours at that volume.
Hidden Hearing's Dr Nina Byrnes said: "A rest period for the ears is extremely important because it gives them time to recover and limits the potential for any long-term damage."
Irish Rail has launched a poster campaign on the issue. It asks commuters to respect others and keep the volume low.