Did Your Child's Toys Make the Naughty List?
When it comes to protecting little ears from noise that damages their hearing, some toy manufacturers should be on Santa's naughty list this year. As it has for the past 15 years, the Sight and Hearing Association (SHA) tested 20 toys and found 12 emit sounds of more than 100 decibels (dB), a level which can damage hearing in less than 15 minutes.
And while the American Society of Testing and Materials requires toy noise levels not exceed 85 decibels (dB) when held at 50 centimeters -- or approximately the length of an adult's arm -- children's arms are much shorter and they often bring toys close to their face when they play.
Some of the noisiest toys for 2012 include:
Disney/Pixar Toy Story Talking Buzz Lightyear by Mattel registers 81.6 dB when imaginations are traveling to "infinity and beyond" at distance of 10 inches, but rises to 111 dB at 0 inches when the adventures takes place close to the ear.
Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Leonardo's Electric Sword by Playmates Toys: Little swordsmen's ears are safe at 10 inches where the toy registers 81.6 dB but are at risk for developing hearing loss at 0 inches where it registers 109.2 dB.
Dora the Explorer/Dora's Desert Friends by Publications Int'l, Ltd. registers 80.4 dB at 10 inches but increases to a dangerous level of 108.2 dB at 0 inches.
Barbie Little Learner Laptop by Oregon Scientific: Even though this toy registers 83.8 dB when located 10 inches away, Doctor Barbie wouldn't approve of the 108 dB it emits at 0 inches.
Playskool/123 Sesame Street Let's Rock Grover Microphone by Hasbro: Aspiring rock star's ears are safe at 79.3 dB when the microphone is held 10 inches away, but not when it's held close to their ear where it measures 107.3 dB.
Noise-induced hearing loss in the most common form of hearing loss in children and young adults -- and also one of the most preventable.
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, ten million Americans suffer from irreversible noise induced hearing loss and 30 million more are exposed to dangerous noise levels every day.
That's one of the reasons the SHA recommends all Santa's helpers spend a few minutes playing with toys before purchasing them for the little loved ones in their family. Push the buttons and hold the toy close like a child does. If the noise level hurts your ears, chances are it will be too loud for your child, too.