About 50% of young people between 12 and 35 years old, that is 1.1 billion people, are at risk of hearing loss due to “prolonged and excessive exposure to loud sounds”, according to WHO.
“Since we have the knowledge to prevent hearing loss, there should not be so many young people who continue to damage their hearing by listening to music”, said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Currently, 5% of the world population, that is 466 million people -including 34 million children, is suffering from hearing loss. However, WHO does not know what percentage is related to the misuse of these audio devices.
The new regulations, developed by the WHO in conjunction with the International Telecommunications Union, another UN agency, recommends manufacturers of these devices to include in smartphones and audio readers, systems that allow assessing the risks related to sound volume.
These systems allow the user to be informed about the sound level and the duration of the audio and to alert in case of danger. “For now, we only have the instinct that tells us if the volume is too high”, explained Shelly Chadha, a WHO doctor, at a press conference in Geneva.
“It is as if you drive on a highway but without a speedometer or speed limit on your vehicle. What we propose is that your smartphones are equipped with a speed counter, a measuring system that tells you about the amount of sound you are receiving and that tells you if you exceed the limit, “he said.
WHO also proposes introducing parental volume control or even automatic volume limitation.