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European Music Day: safe sound, safe music


16 Jun 2011


Health & Consumers

This weekend, many Europeans will enjoy concerts and activities organised to celebrate “Music Day” (“Fete de la Musique”) on 21st June. “Whether listening to music at a concert or on a Personal Music Player (PMP), it is important to keep the volume at a safe level in order to prevent risk of hearing loss from exposure to excessive sound pressures”, said ANEC Secretary-General, Stephen Russell.


“Although the majority of consumers do not go to concerts everyday, many do listen to PMPs for extended periods of time, especially those who are younger. They are often unaware of the very real risks of premature hearing loss or total deafness. Hence we are pleased that the European standards for PMPs reflect our call for mandatory volume limits, something that did not previously exist and which we called for”, Mr Russell added.



At the beginning of the year, safety requirements for PMPs were included in the relevant standards1, following ANEC’s campaign, “Pump down the volume!”2. The approach adopted is based on an average sound pressure limit of 85 dBA. This is a level that is considered to be safe under all conditions of use. Nevertheless, there is the possibility for consumers to choose to override the limit so that the level can be increased up to a maximum average of 100 dBA. In this case, users are informed by warnings, repeated after every 20 hours of listening time, about the risks of listening music at such a high volume. The 85 dBA and 100 dBA limits will enter into force no later than next year.


“We are extremely happy with the approval of these standards as, since 2009, we have worked very hard for the maximum sound levels permitted in PMPs to be limited to safe thresholds by default”, said Stephen Russell. “The limits apply not only to PMPs but also to mobile phones with a music playing function (and earphones and headphones intended for use with PMPs). Hearing loss from exposure to excessive sound levels from personal music players is an avoidable risk, unlike hearing loss from ageing or illness. As the damage caused by such exposure can be permanent and irreversible, even at a very young age, prevention is imperative” added Mr Russell.


Listening to PMPs at high volume settings over a sustained period can lead to permanent hearing damage. The EU Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks, which published its opinion on 13 October 2008, warned that 5-10% of users - or up to 10 million people in the EU - could be at risk of permanent hearing loss, with young people being of special concern.



1 EN 60065:2002/A12:2011 "Audio, video and similar electronic apparatus - Safety requirements" and EN 60950-1:2006/A12:2011 "Information technology equipment - Safety -- Part 1: General requirements".




ANEC in brief


ANEC is the European consumer voice in standardisation, representing and defending consumer interests in the process of standardisation and certification. ANEC was set up in 1995 as an international non-profit association under Belgian law and represents consumer organisations from the 27 EU Member States and 3 EFTA countries and Croatia. ANEC is funded by the European Union and the EFTA Secretariat, while national consumer organisations contribute in kind. Its Secretariat is based in Brussels.


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