Estimating adolescent risk for hearing loss based on data from a large school-based survey

Am J Public Health. 2010 Jun;100(6):1095-100. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2009.168690. Epub 2010 Apr 15.


Objectives: We estimated whether and to what extent a group of adolescents were at risk of developing permanent hearing loss as a result of voluntary exposure to high-volume music, and we assessed whether such exposure was associated with hearing-related symptoms.

Methods: In 2007, 1512 adolescents (aged 12-19 years) in Dutch secondary schools completed questionnaires about their music-listening behavior and whether they experienced hearing-related symptoms after listening to high-volume music. We used their self-reported data in conjunction with published average sound levels of music players, discotheques, and pop concerts to estimate their noise exposure, and we compared that exposure to our own "loosened" (i.e., less strict) version of current European safety standards for occupational noise exposure.

Results: About half of the adolescents exceeded safety standards for occupational noise exposure. About one third of the respondents exceeded safety standards solely as a result of listening to MP3 players. Hearing symptoms that occurred after using an MP3 player or going to a discotheque were associated with exposure to high-volume music.

Conclusions: Adolescents often exceeded current occupational safety standards for noise exposure, highlighting the need for specific safety standards for leisure-time noise exposure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Hearing Loss, Noise-Induced / epidemiology*
  • Hearing Loss, Noise-Induced / etiology
  • Hearing Tests
  • Humans
  • MP3-Player
  • Male
  • Music
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Noise / adverse effects
  • Risk Factors
  • Schools
  • Young Adult