Objective: To assess the potential risk of hearing loss to young listeners, due to the use of personal listening devices (PLDs).
Design: The study included two parts: (1) A self-report questionnaire on music listening habits, and (2) Physical measurements of preferred listening levels, in quiet and in everyday background noise.
Study sample: Young teenagers aged 13 to 17 years. Part 1 included 289 participants with mean age of 14 years. Part 2 included 11 and 74 participants (2A and 2B) with a mean age of 15 years. Eleven listened to PLDs in quiet conditions (2A) and 74 in everyday background noise (2B).
Results: Questionnaire main findings indicated that most of the participants reported high or very high volume settings and demonstrated low awareness towards loud music listening consequences. Physical measurements corrected for diffuse field indicated mean preferred listening levels of: 82 (SD = 9) dBA in quiet, and 89 (SD = 9) dBA in the presence of background noise. The potential risk to hearing of PLDs users was calculated using the 8 hour equivalent level.
Conclusion: More than 25% of the participants in the noisy condition were found to be at risk according to occupational damage risk criteria NIOSH, 1998.