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Popular toys could damage hearing of children

2012-09-04

Washington: Some popular toys produce noise equal to that of a chain saw or rumble of a subway train and could damage hearing of children, reveals a study. 

Otolaryngology (dealing with the ear, nose and throat) researchers from the University of California Irvine, tested 10 of the loudest toys available in stores and found that they exceed 90 deciBels and several reached 100 or more deciBels.

The toys include Road Rippers Lightning Rods, Tonka Mighty Motorized Fire Truck, Marvel Super Shield Captain America, Green Lantern Colossal Cannon, etc, said a university statement.

"Generally toys are safe if used properly," said Hamid Djalilian, associate professor of otolaryngology and director of neurotology and skull base surgery at California.

"We tested the sound levels at the speaker and again at 12 inches, which is about the length of a toddler`s arm," he said.

According to Djalilian: "Children are very sensitive to loud and high-pitched sounds. Problems can arise if a noisy toy is held too close to the ears, hearing loss from noise damage is permanent and not currently curable."

Unprotected exposure to sounds above 85 decibels for a prolonged period can lead to hearing impairment, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology.

Two factors contribute to this - loudness and duration. The louder a sound is, the less time it takes to cause hearing loss, Djalilian noted.

He suggested that someone buying a noisy toy for a child should pay attention to the speaker`s location, which usually should be under the item than on top.

Djalilian also recommended that an adult should hold the toy and listen to its sound.

"If it hurts your ears then it`s probably too loud for a child," he added.

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