Toys with loud noise can harm kids’ hearing

13 December, 2007

A majority of toys that kids play with are too loud, experts on hearing have warned.

The Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (CASLPA) has asked Canada’s federal government to amend current legislation and lower the maximum noise levels allowed in toys.

Canada’s federal Hazardous Products Act currently allows toys to be as loud as 100 decibels, which, the CASLPA says, is too high.

According to the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists, the present noise limit for toys does not take into account how closely children may hold a toy to their ears and how sensitive children’s hearing is to noise.

The association stresses that the International Standards Organization, a network of the national standards institutes of 157 countries, has limited noise levels in toys to 85 decibels. The World Health Organization has set the noise limit at 75 decibels.

Experts on hearing have also warned parents to be cautious when buying toys for their children.

Canadian media quoted Chantal Kealey, manager of Audiology and Supportive Personnel at the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists, as saying, “It is essential for parents to know that excessively noisy toys have the potential to harm their children's hearing if they are not played with as intended. As a rule of thumb, if you have to raise your voice above the noise level of a toy to be heard, then the noise is too loud and could be causing damage to your child’s hearing.”

Linda Rammage, president of the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists, said, “We are concerned that some toys have the potential to harm hearing and can lead to serious communication problems. Noise-induced hearing loss is permanent but preventable. The 100-decibel level needs to be re-examined and a lower level should be set as the standard.”

The CASLPA has put forward the following suggestions for parents and caregivers who to avoid damage to children’s hearing from toys:

  • Put a check on the time your child spends with noisy toys.
  • Buy toys in which volume can be controlled.
  • check the sound level of a toy before buying it.
  • Educate children about how to handle their toys. Discourage children from playing with toys at the face/ear level.
  • Buy alternative, quieter toys such as books and puzzles, which help improve language and literacy skills.

The warning signs of hearing loss in children, according to CASLPA, include:

  • Delay in acquiring speech and language skills
  • Lack of response to sounds
  • Loud speech and a need to increase the volume of the radio or TV

Meanwhile, the Hearing Foundation of Canada has said that since manufacturers of toys are not required to label toys with the level of decibel emission, it is the manufacturers’ responsibility to ensure that toys are safe. If parents are concerned that a toy is too loud, they should test it with a sound meter.

In May 2007, the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association said that more young people are being diagnosed with hearing loss, often because of prolonged and increased exposure to unsafe noises, including noisy toys and prolonged listening to portable music players.





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