Watch out! The frequency level and duration of the sound you are exposed to through your favourite audio devices such as smartphones can leave you deaf, and that too permanently.
Ahead of the World Hearing Day on March 3, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that if safe listening practices are not adopted, at least one in ten people face the risk of losing hearing by 2050. Already, at least some 466 million people, including 93 per cent adults and 7 per cent children have debilitating hearing loss, up from 360 million in 2010.
To address this issue, the global health agency and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) for the first time has issued a new international standard for the manufacture and use of these devices, which include smartphones and audio players, to make them safer for listening. (see BOX).
Under its “Make Listening Safe” initiative, the WHO-ITU has asked the manufacturers to make smartphones and other audio players cap volume limit as well as time limits on listening to loud music.
“Given that we have the technological know-how to prevent hearing loss, it should not be the case that so many young people continue to damage their hearing while listening to music,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.
“They must understand that once they lose their hearing, it won’t come back. This new WHO-ITU standard will do much to better safeguard these young consumers as they go about doing something they enjoy,” it said.
According to the WHO, at the current pace, the number of people with hearing loss is expected to nearly double to alarming 900 million within next three decades given that smartphone use in developing countries has grown from 45 per cent in 2013 to 54 per cent in 2015 and in developed countries this figure stands at 87 per cent. 1.1 billion young people (aged between 12 years and 35 years) are at risk of hearing loss due to exposure to noise in recreational settings.
Noise-induced hearing loss can be caused by a variety of environments and behaviours. For example, 40 per cent of those frequenting such discotheques, clubs, sporting events or music concerts are exposed to potentially damaging sound levels. There is evidence that those exposed for 20 years to loud sounds are three times more likely to suffer hearing loss. Deafness can have significant financial costs too. The health agency estimates that unaddressed hearing loss costs the world approximately $750 billion each year.
Thursday, 14 February 2019 | Archana Jyoti | New Delhi
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