September 26, 2019
The World Health Organization estimates that sound-induced hearing loss risks affecting over a billion young people worldwide.
This is why the WHO and the ITU (International Telecommunication Union) worked together to create the Global Standard on Safe Listening Devices and Systems — referred to as WHO-ITU H.870. The WHO-ITU H.870 focuses on the safe listening of ‘personal or portable audio systems’, particularly music players. It is the first standard to result from ITU-WHO safe listening collaboration, with future standards in the series expected to address communications and assistive devices as well as gaming consoles.
The recommendations call for manufacturers to equip devices like smartphones and personal audio players with information that explains safe listening levels — for adults, a total of 40 hours of weekly exposure to volume levels no higher than 80 dB is recommended; for children, the level is 75 dB); usage warnings and tracking information; cues for taking safe listening actions; options for limiting volume levels; and volume limiters expressly for parents to use. The recommendations would also have safe listening information appear on external product packaging and advertising, as well as on manufacturers’ websites.
Along with creating the standard, the WHO and the ITU also launched the Safe Listening toolkit. The toolkit was designed to provide practical guidance to support industry partners and civil society groups as they implement the WHO-ITU H.870 standard.
It all comes down to the basic fact that hearing loss depends on how loud the sounds are as well as how long and how often a person is exposed to them. Without knowing or understanding the exposure levels, you can not take preventative action.
Over 600 private sector companies from within the industry helped develop the Global Standard on Safe Listening Devices and Systems but here at IEMITO, we would like to single out one particular member for his lifelong dedication to hearing conservation.
Sensaphonics' Dr. Santucci has been working with the World Health Organization since 2015, when he was invited to speak at the WHO-ITU Joint Stakeholders Consultation on Safe Listening Devices in Geneva, Switzerland. He continues to serve the WHO as global expert in hearing loss prevention in music.