Systematic assessment of noise amplitude generated by toys intended for young children

Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2013 Jun;148(6):1043-7. doi: 10.1177/0194599813482293. Epub 2013 Mar 22.


Objective: To systematically evaluate the noise generated by toys targeted for children and to compare the results over the course of 4 consecutive holiday shopping seasons.

Study design: Experimental study.

Setting: Academic medical center.

Subjects and methods: During 2008-2011, more than 200 toys marketed for children older than 6 months were screened for loudness. The toys with sound output of more than 80 dBA at speaker level were retested in a soundproof audiometry booth. The generated sound amplitude of each toy was measured at speaker level and at 30 cm away from the speaker.

Results: Ninety different toys were analyzed. The mean (SD) noise amplitude was 100 (8) dBA (range, 80-121 dBA) at the speaker level and 80 (11) dBA (range, 60-109 dBA) at 30 cm away from the speaker. Eighty-eight (98%) had more than an 85-dBA noise amplitude at speaker level, whereas 19 (26%) had more than an 85-dBA noise amplitude at a 30-cm distance. Only the mean noise amplitude at 30 cm significantly declined during the studied period (P < .001). There was no significant difference in mean noise amplitude of different toys specified for different age groups.

Conclusion: Our findings demonstrate the persistence of extremely loud toys marketed for very young children. Acoustic trauma from toys remains a potential risk factor for noise-induced hearing loss in this age group, warranting promotion of public awareness and regulatory considerations for manufacture and marketing of toys.

Keywords: acoustic trauma; noise-induced hearing loss; pediatric noise exposure; sensorineural hearing loss; toys.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Audiometry / methods
  • Auditory Threshold
  • California
  • Child Welfare*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Consumer Product Safety*
  • Female
  • Hearing Loss, Noise-Induced / etiology*
  • Hearing Loss, Noise-Induced / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Marketing
  • Needs Assessment
  • Noise / adverse effects*
  • Play and Playthings*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment