Today the Noise Abatement Society with Ascent Hearing Care and the Mary Hare Institute launch the first MP3 awareness campaign specifically targetting teenagers.
The campaign, Love Your Ears, highlights the growing concern that the present generation of teenagers will be prematurely deaf or significantly hearing impaired before the age of 40.
According to EU scientists, it could be common place in 2020 to see one in ten 30 year olds wearing a hearing aid: unable to listen to an MP3 player anymore because of irreversible damage to their hearing, unable even to hear the voice of another person let alone their favourite music. 
“These could be the shocking consequences of the teenage timebomb we face if not prevented with the present generation unaware of the danger,” warns Gloria Elliott, Chief Executive of the Noise Abatement Society (NAS).
With a fresh approach aimed at teenagers, NAS and Ascent Hearing Care technologists have visited schools in Sussex with CYRIL (Computes Your Real Input Levels) an interactive acoustic manikin to help students experience for themselves how loud they are listening to their MP3 players. The programme helps them to recognise the danger they face and choose to love their ears before it’s too late.
Dr Michael Nolan, CEO of Ascent Hearing Care, says “The majority of the 11 – 16 year olds that we’ve seen are listening to their MP3 players at 80 decibels or above – what we call the ‘danger zone’. This places them at significant risk of irreversible hearing damage if their listening habits don’t change.”
Just like sea waves battering a coast, sound waves produced by MP3 players batter the inner ear hair cells causing permanent irreversible damage especially over a prolonged period. This happens because loud noise kills off hair cells that pick up sounds and help process them. The longer the exposure, the more hair cells are destroyed. By the time hearing disturbances are noticed the damage has become permanent and almost always incurable.
“Hearing damage develops cumulatively over time, meaning that when hearing impairment is actually noticed, it is nearly always too late to effect a cure,” says Dr Ivan Tucker OBE, Chief Executive of Mary Hare. “Prevention is better than cure, as hearing aids cannot replace what’s lost, they can only help to assist what’s left.”
The next stage of the campaign will see the development of teaching modules with the Mary Hare Institute and Ascent Hearing Care to be used as part of science and personal development curricula in schools to help teenagers understand the effects they have on others when they listen to MP3 players at high volumes as well as other safety issues including listening whilst walking or cycling.
Elliott concludes, “A lot has been written and reported about this issue, but listening habits of teenagers have barely altered, if at all. Our campaign is designed to help teenagers understand the consequences of listening too loudly to their MP3 players over prolonged periods and to engage them in a learning process in order to help them take responsibility for their hearing health.”
Notes to Editors
About Ascent Hearing Care
Ascent Hearing Care is part of the Pinnacle Group of companies and is dedicated to achieving hearing care excellence through experience, enthusiasm and education – without compromise.
Ascent provides Hearing Care Services across the British Isles, throughout Europe and into the Middle East. For more information visit www.ascenthearing.co.uk
About Mary Hare
Mary Hare is a national charity (registered charity number 1048386). Mary Hare School is a non-maintained special school providing for profoundly and severely deaf children and young people from all over the UK. Pupils’ fees are paid for by the Local Education Authority where they live. For more information visit www.maryhare.org
 EU Scientific Committee on Emerging & Newly Identified Health Risks report September 2008