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Published On: Mon, Mar 11th, 2013

Bloomberg, NYC to target loud music in headphones to help with public health problem

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who led the ban on 16-ounce sodas, trans fats in restaurants and public smoking, is now turning his sights on young people who play their music too loud through their headphones.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg Image/NBC Video Screen Shot

Mayor Michael Bloomberg
Image/NBC Video Screen Shot

“The Health Department is aiming to better inform and educate New Yorkers about ways to protect hearing from exposure to loud sounds,” the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said in a statement sent to ABC News. “With public and private support, a public education campaign is being developed to raise awareness about safe use of personal music players and risks of loud and long listening.”

The city’s spending a quarter-million dollars to launch a Hearing Loss Prevention Media Campaign warning young people through social media and focus groups about the risk of losing their hearing, The New York Post reported Wednesday.

With public and private support, a public education campaign is being developed to raise awareness about safe use of personal music players … and risks of loud and long listening,” Nancy Clark, the city Health Department’s assistant commissioner of environmental disease prevention, told The Post.

A Johns Hopkins School of Medicine study from 2011 concluded that one in five individuals older than 12 suffer from hearing loss “severe enough to hinder communication.”

“You don’t see the effects of true hearing loss for several years,” said Dr. Frank Lin, assistant professor in the Department of Otolaryngology at Johns Hopkins University, who led the research. “It’s hard to say how much the ears will be affected from iPods and such. It’s certainly not going to help your hearing, but we just don’t know how much it’s going to hurt it.”

On the prospects of rolling out an education program to help prevent this kind of hearing damage, Dr. Sean McMenomey, director of otology at New York University, said it could be good news. McMenomey, who specializes in hearing aid fittings and cochlear implants, told ABC News, “Prevention is always the best way.”

“Very loud noise or sound, even if only for a split second, can cause damage, but even lower-duration sounds, if exposed long enough, can cause sensory-neural hearing loss,” McMenomey said. “This is what the mayor is trying to educate the public about.”

When the damage is done, it’s permanent, according to McMenomey.

“The hearing loss can be with these kids for 70 to 80 years,” he said.

 

 

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