SWITZERLAND – In preparation for World Hearing Day 2022, with the theme “To Hear for Life, Listen with Care!” The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a new international standard for safe listening at venues and events.
The standard applies to any location or activity where amplified music is played.
Over 1 billion people between the ages of 12 and 35 are at risk of losing their hearing as a result of prolonged and excessive exposure to loud music and other recreational sounds.
Over 1.5 billion people globally live with hearing loss, and according to recent estimates this number could rise to over 2.5 billion by 2030. WHO estimates that 50 per cent of hearing loss can be prevented through public health measures.
This can have a negative impact on their physical and mental health, education, and employment prospects.
The risk is intensified as most audio devices, venues and events do not provide safe listening options and contribute to the risk of hearing loss.
The new WHO standard aims to better safeguard young people as they enjoy their leisure activities.
Given the circumstances, WHO urged governments to create and implement legislation to promote healthier lifestyles.
Millions of teenagers and young people are at risk of hearing loss due to the unsafe use of personal audio devices and exposure to damaging sound levels at venues such as nightclubs, bars, concerts and sporting events.”
The Global standard for safe listening at venues and events outlines six recommendations for implementation to ensure that venues and events limit the risk of hearing loss to their patrons while maintaining high-quality sound and an enjoyable listening experience.
The recommendations include a maximum average sound level of 100 decibels and making personal hearing protection available to audiences, including instructions on use and access to quiet zones for people to rest their ears and decrease the risk of hearing damage.
The new standard was created as part of WHO’s Make Listening Safe initiative, which was launched in 2015 with the goal of improving listening practices, particularly among young people.
The World Health Organization warned that hearing loss caused by loud sounds is permanent, emphasizing that while exposure to loud sounds causes temporary hearing loss or tinnitus (ringing sound interference in the ears).
Prolonged or repeated exposure can lead to permanent hearing damage, resulting in irreversible hearing loss.
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