Noisy Toys May Cause Permanent Hearing Damage

Parents, this holiday season be careful of giving your children toys that emit loud noises. While most toys will only damage children’s hearing if they’re used for a long time period, a UK study found some toys can cause permanent hearing damage simply from being held too close to the ear.

The study, conducted by Deafness Research UK, tested the noise levels of 15 popular toys for kids aged 3 months to 15 years. While the recommended upper noise level for toys is 85 decibels, the study found:

  • Eight of the toys emitted an average of 81-105 decibels when held 25 centimeters (about a child’s arm’s length) away
  • 14 of the toys emitted noise levels between 84-115 decibels when held 2.5 centimeters away
  • Toy guns were the most problematic, emitting 120-140 decibels at an arm’s length away and 130-143 decibels when held close to the ear (noises over 140 decibels can cause immediate hearing damage).

The researchers’ commonsense advice? Don’t let your child hold noisy toys too close to their ear, and don’t let them play with the toys for more than an hour a day. Toy guns, they say, may be better off avoided altogether.

Deafness Research UK December 11, 2006