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Hearing Loss Feared for Users of MP3 Players

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Hearing Loss Feared for Users of MP3 Players

Technology

Hearing Loss Feared for Users of MP3 Players

Hearing Loss Feared for Users of MP3 Players

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Congressman Edward Markey of Massachusetts has asked the National Institutes of Health to study the impact of MP3 players on young people's ears. In a response sent this week, the NIH said it still needs to do more research to know for sure whether the devices increase the risk of hearing loss.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Can you turn that down a bit? Thank you. Audiologists will be pleased to have the music turned down. This week the National Institutes of Health said more study is needed to know whether listening to music through those ubiquitous ear buds on MP3 players is doing lasting damage to the nation's ears. NPR's Ben Bergman went down into Washington's subway system--that's the Metro--to get a firsthand impression.

BEN BERGMAN reporting:

We found some commuters who said they listened to their iPod every waking hour of the day, much longer than was common with walkmans and Discmans, and with ear buds projecting directly into the ear canal.

(Soundbite of music)

(Soundbite of crowd)

Ms. BRENDA LONSBURY-MARTIN (Chief Staff Officer, Science and Research, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association): It's a recipe for disaster in one sense because the loudness and the duration that's possible is very potentially harmful to hearing.

BERGMAN: Brenda Lonsbury-Martin directs research at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. She said this week at a panel in Washington that she's seen more signs of hearing loss in young people.

Ms. LONSBURY-MARTIN: Muffled hearing, the reduced sensitivity, meaning you have to turn the volume up to hear it and distorted hearing.

BERGMAN: How much can be blamed on MP3 players and ear buds? Researchers at the NIH want to learn more, but for now they recommend listening for no more than an hour a day and turning down the volume. Ben Bergman, NPR News, Washington.

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